“I converse with matter and shake hands with it.”
In October 1956, Jiro Yoshihara published the Gutai Art Manifesto. The following is its most famous section: “Gutai Art does not alter matter. Gutai Art imparts life to matter. Gutai Art does not distort matter. In Gutai Art, the human spirit and matter shake hands with each other while keeping their distance.”1
Gutai Art, as the direction that new art should take, advocated the merging of human qualities and material properties. Now, more than sixty years have passed since the manifesto was presented. It has indeed been a long time, and when I look back, I see that one of the artists who has been most faithful to the manifesto, and has consistently created artworks where matter (materials) gain life, is Tsuyoshi Maekawa (1936–). When I reconsider the works of Maekawa, I am left with no doubt that he is an artist that has devotedly explored the core idea of Gutai Art.
At this exhibition, viewers will be able to look at Maekawa’s art with fresh eyes. By doing so, they will acquire very useful clues about what contemporary art has been seeking and what it has been focusing on.
Born in a Year of the Rat, Maekawa will turn eighty-four this year. He is still working as a professional artist, producing many works. Accordingly, we will show many recent works of his that have never been exhibited before.
When creating a work, Maekawa converses with the materials or matter. He has love for his materials, and he creates with love wonderful shapes and colors. At this exhibition, the viewers will meet these shapes and colors. When they do, I hope that they will make discoveries and feel happiness and joy.
Eiichi Matsuhashi, Director, Karuizawa New Art Museum
1 Translated by Reiko Tomii. Originally published as “Gutai bijutsu sengen,” Geijutsu Shinchō 7, no. 12 (December 1956), pp. 202–04.