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Shuji Mukai

Shuji Mukai (Japan, 1940)
In 1959, Mukai met Jiro Yoshihara who was the leader of GUTAI group. Mukai’s talent was highly appreciated by Yoshihara, and he became the youngest member of GUTAI in 1961. Mukai’s works are composed of many numbers of various types of symbols that fill the canvases and spaces. Yoshihara praised his works saying, “While they appear cool at first glance, there is a furious energy lurking within them.” His works also gained great admiration of Michel Tapié who originated the Art Informel (informal art) movement.

In 1964, Mukai’s works were presented at the “New Japanese Painting and Sculpture” exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, which toured the United States until 1967. The curator William S. Lieberman purchased two of his works to be added to the collection of the MoMA. In 1966, Mukai presented his first installation work in Osaka, in which symbols filled the entire interior surface of a jazz cafe called “Check”. In 1969, there was an incident in which Mukai burnt all his works and took a break. Later, in 1990, he restarted producing art works. At the “Gutai: Splendid Playground” exhibition held in 2013 at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, he presented an installation work that covered the surfaces of the elevators and bathrooms of the museum in symbols. During the opening event he appeared in the main performance, in which he collaborated with young people using symbols, and gained recognition. In 2014, Mukai created an installation work “Playing with Symbols: Embellished Amphitheater” at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, curated by architect Tadao Ando. In addition, his retrospectives were held at the Nariwa Museum, Takahashi City, and the Karuizawa New Art Museum. In the following year he presented Space of Signs Selfie Studio installation work that consists of mirrors covered with symbols at the Palazzo Fortuny (Venice).

In December 2016, he created Sky Space Earth, an installation work of pillars covered with symbols, for the new Louis Vuitton store that opened in Soho, New York, under the curation of architect Peter Mariono. In spring 2017, he will present an installation work, which covers the entire surface of the bathroom of The Warehouse, an art exhibition space in Dallas managed by Howard Rachofsky. Thus, Mukai is further expanding his sphere of creative activities.

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Born in Kobe
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, ‘8th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Kyoto
International Center of Aesthetic Research, ‘The Continuité et Avant-garde au Japon’, Turin, Italy
Palazzo del Centro del Mobile, ‘XII Premio Lissone internazionale per la pittura’, Lissone, Italy
Takashimaya Department Store, ‘11th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka,
Galerie Stadler, ‘Structures répétitives’, Paris, France
Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, ‘Strutture e Stile’, Turin, Italy
Sankei Hall, ‘Don't Worry, the Moon Won't Fall Down: Gutai Art and Morita Modern Dance’, Osaka, Japan
Städtsche Kunstgalerie, ‘Profile, Michel Tapié: Strukturen und Stile’, Bochum, Germany
Takashimaya Department Store, ‘12th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Tokyo
Takashimaya Department Store, ‘13th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka
Takashimaya Department Store, ‘14th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka
National Museum of Modern Art, ‘Trends in Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture of Japan’, Kyoto
Centro de Artes Visuales Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, ‘Intuiciones y Realizaciones Formales’, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Yokohama Civic Art Gallery, ‘Today's Artists’, Yokohama, Japan
Daiwa Gallery, ‘Five Gutai Artists in Kobe’, Kobe
Museum of Modern Art, ‘The New Japanese Painters and Sculptures’, New York
Gutai Pinacotheca, ‘15th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka
Keio Department Store, ‘16th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Tokyo
Galerie Stadler, `Groupe Gutai’, Paris, France
Shinano Gallery, ‘The Method of Twenty Artists’, Osaka, Japan
International Gallery Orez, ‘NUL
Art Exhibition (Nul Negentienhonderd zesenzestig)’, The Hague, Netherlands
Gutai Pinacotheca, ‘Three-Person exhibition: Shuji Mukai, Matsutani, Maekawa’, Osaka,
Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Art Palais de Rumine, ‘2ème Salon International des Galeries Pilotes Lausanne’, Lausanne, Switzerland
Takashimaya Department Store, ‘17th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Yokohama
National Museum of Modern Art, ‘New Generation's Contemporary Art’, Tokyo
Experiment Studio, ‘Gutai Group Osaka Japan’, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Heide Hildebrand Gallery, ‘Gutai Group Exhibition’, Klagenfurt, Austria
Gutai Pinacotheca, ‘19th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka
Sogo Department Store, ‘Espacio Contemporaneo 1968 Luz y Ambiente’, Kobe
Gutai Pinacotheca, ‘20th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka
Miyazaki Kanko Hotel, ‘Contemporary Art Exhibition Only in the Night’, Miyazaki, Japan 1969 Alleria d'Arte Cortina, ‘Spazi astratti. Dall'intuizione alla concettualizzazione’, Milan, Italy 1970 Expo’70 Museum, Outdoor Section, ‘Garden on Garden’, Osaka
Midori Pavilion, ‘Exhibition at the entrance of Expo ’70 Midori Pavilion by the Gutai Group’, Osaka
Osaka Prefectural Gallery, ‘Eighteen Years of Gutai Art’, Osaka
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, ‘Jiro Yoshihara and Today's Aspects of Gutai’, Kobe, Japan
Yao Seibu Hall, ‘Contemporary Art 1950-1970’, Osaka
Ashiya Civic Center, ‘Jiro Yoshihara and "Gutai"’, Ashiya, Japan
National Museum of Art, ‘Action and Emotion, Paintings of the '50s, Informel, Gutai, Cobra’, Osaka
Museum of Modern Art, ‘Reconstructions: Avant-garde Art in Japan 19451965’, Oxford, Great Britain
Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, ‘Grupo Gutai: Pintura y Acción’, Madrid, Spain
Centre Pompidou, ‘Japon des Avant-Gardes 1910-1970’, Paris, France
Institut Mathildenhöhe, ‘Gutai Japanische Avantgarde 1954-1965’, Darmstadt, Germany
Shoto Museum of Art ‘Gutai: The Avant-Garde Group Unfinished’, Tokyo
Miyagi Museum of Art, ‘Artists of Gutai Art Association’, Sendai, Japan
Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, ‘Gutai II: 1959-1965’, Ashiya, Japan
Ehime Museum of Art, ‘Challenge of Art After the War: Jiro Yoshihara and the Gutai Group’, Matsuyama, Japan.
Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, ‘Le Tribù dell'Arte’, Rome, Italy
Miyagi Museum of Art, ‘Artists of Gutai Art Association’, Sendai, Japan
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, ‘GUTAI 1954-1972’, Kobe, Japan
National Art Center, ‘Gutai: The Spirit of an Era’, Tokyo
Guggenheim Museum, New York, `Splendid playground`, New York
Nariwa Museum, Okayama, Japan. Hyogo prefecture Museum, `Symbol Art`, Kobe, Japan
Karuizawa New Art Museum, Karuizawa, Japan

Public Collections

  • Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • National Museum of Art, Osaka
  • Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art