(bilingual : French-English)
under Gutai exhibition which tookplace in July 1955
in Ashiya in the Japanese Kansai province.
"We would do well to ask ourselves - with all due caution - what was the common ground, in the fifteen years that followed World War II, between the "defeated countries" -Japan, Germany, Italy - and certain artistic upheavals : Gutai in Japan, Fluxus in Germany, Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana and, later, Arte povera in Italy, to which we might add the strong "matterist" current that was to develop in Spain around artists like Tapiès, Millares, etc. All these breaks were centred on the dual pre-eminence of formlessness and materiality, values that were themselves inseparable from a rediscovery of the body, an appeal to gesture and to a set of instinctive references. […]
We should remember too that, in France, it was in 1945, juste after the war, that the two major exhibitions that inaugurated the pre-eminence of the formless on the French post-war scene took place : Fautrier's Les Otages and Dubuffet's Les Hautes Pâtes. […]
It was as if the war, the atomic disaster and the discovery of the concentration camps had caused deep trauma. A borderline state of stupor that could only be exorcised by calling on instinctive forces, powers and dynamism. The extreme situation elicited a radical response : formless and "matterist". One that went beyond ideology to call on values drawn from chaos and instinct." (Florence de Mèredieu, Excerpts from a conference "Gutai and the immediate post-war", in 1999 at the Musée du Jeu de Paume, during the exhibition devoted to the Gutai movement of avant-garde Japanese. Text published in 2002 Gutai Moments of destruction / Moments of beauty, pp. 64-88, Blusson)
GUTAI is an important movement of the Japanese avant-garde, founded by Yoshihara Jiro in 1954 near Osaka (in the Kansai area). Introduced to Europe (in particular to France) by Michel Tapié, its influence on North American Art (Automatisme, Lyric abstraction, Pollock’s Action Painting, Rauschenberg’s Combine Paintings and performances) as well as on Arte Povera was considerable and remains insufficiently analysed.
The ascendance of matter, both natural and artificial. The role of the body. Pictorial gestuality. Happening. Performance. Site specific works. Gutai invented all of these, and prefigure the all. Today, we remain spellbound before such invention, freshness, and vitality.
The Book : French/English