lundi 25 février 2013


Gutai 2nd Outdoor Exhibition, Ashiya Park, 1956

" Make a unique and complete tear in the ether where nothing exists. Something where all art and all matter are invisible."(Kazuo Shiraga, 1955)

"Everywhere was an air of cheerful excitement. Just like when we continue to blow into a balloon child beginning to swell, asking : "Will it explode now ? Will it explode ?" (Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a mask)

Playful, fragile, ephemeral, Gutai movement was born in Japan in 1954 in the Osaka area. It is in the wake of these times that followed the second world war and have seen the emergence of unusual modes of expression, breaking with tradition and with what is called the establishment art. It was for the little band around Jiro Yoshihara (the initiator of the group) to invent and experiment with all kinds of performances, gestures, visual novel proposals, renew bottom of the traditional relationship that artist has with the material. And above all: do not repeat, copy, mimic. But creating. To "what had never been done."

In the aftermath, Saburo Murakami, Sadamasa Motonaga, Atsuko Tanaka, Kazuo Shiraga, Shozo Shimamoto and their acolytes multiply gestures and new proposals : perforation brutal and very physical frames papers, smoke rings, costumes made ​​of light bulbs, paint in the mud, destruction of objects, etc. - The time has won these actions do not survive more than through the films that were made ​​then.

Objects and more material traces that remain are they now "exposable" ? They make account it was fragile and dancing Gutai ? The answer certainly is not unique: the costume of light bulbs, by Atsuo Tanaka, probably resist. The Shiraga’s paintings (for some) are always there to certify it was his approach. But already there, in the case of this artist, we understand that the canvas was not a result, a "trace", a spin-off, that the essential was in the action the plot in the making, performance and happening.

This impression is confirmed when we contemplate (this happened to me at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and I was very disappointed when) the framework paper (or reconstitution ?), such that it was the result of the action taken by Murakami. This object is nothing (or very little) to the powerful momentum and trajectory, 'act' took it to (one day at a time and a place) to pierce it… It had appeared that the Gutai was not "reconstituted" and wanting to expose reliefs or traces is equivalent to open the doors of an old garage to give to see the garbage. We can hope, conversely, revive works to replay performance, restore works using materials and fresh colors ... But then again, there is a feeling that will ripoliner and "refresh" the works of the Gutai is another form of betrayal. Does not risk it not then to be found in any one of these supermarkets art where we sell bulk derivatives exposure.

Therein lies perhaps the greatest secret and the power of Gutai: power ephemeral fragility. And the fact that it can be rebuilt and again without it verges on caricature. - There is no longer any time, as expressed in his time Marcel Duchamp, in art, but in " the history of art." - And it is important that the history of art recognized - this - its limits.

Museumizing the Gutai, opening him cymas prestigious museums (like the wonderful Guggenheim) leads indeed to offer and present its members (like a beautiful bouquet of orchids) international recognition. - But we recognize and perceive it now so in the same movement, perfumes, wind, weeds, air and the "sun of mid-summer," that were part of these works, have evaporated ?

Sure, we can dream ... Imagine projects not repeating, do not mimic, but within the single wake of Gutai : bags of colored water (which would not be entirely those of Motonaga) connecting the two shores of Manhattan and Brooklyn or the ends of Central Park in the middle of walkers and birds. Or even a series of smoke rings - soap bubbles, clouds, frayed, light snowflakes - zigzagging along the bridge of the moon in Arashiyama (Kyoto), around the Golden Gate in San Francisco or swaying with the movements of the Verrazano Bridge. Gutai, Let the sail in space and air currents. In the fields and gardens. And among the weeds sidewalks and wastelands. - Far ceremonies and social events of the ART.

On Gutai:


Book : Gutai. Moments of destruction / Beauty Moments

Exhibition: Guggenheim, Gutai a splendid playground, 2013

Histoire matérielle et immatérielle de l’art (Larousse, Paris, 1994-2008 - 20 occurrences).

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