Senkichiro Nasaka (Japan, 1923-2014)
Senkichiro Nasaka was born in Osaka in 1923, and attended both the Nakanoshima Western Painting Institute and the Kawabata School of Fine Art. In 1942 He entered the Kyoto City Painting University, where he became acquainted with Gutai group member Kazuo Shiraga. In 1965 a Nasaka artwork was entered into the 15th Gutai Group Art Exhibition, and he became a group member soon after. He stayed with Gutai until their breakup in 1972, and repeatedly showed his work in Gutai exhibitions.
While his early works are abstracted, influenced by the Art Informel painting style, he later evolved to different art forms along with the other group members. His rough abstraction gave way to hardedge imagery, light art and kinetic artwork, which became representative of the later Gutai style. In particular he made several polished metal artworks linking flat shapes together with sharp angles that are dramatically different from the earnest abstraction of his contemporaries. During the 2013 New York Guggenheim’s Gutai Retrospective (titled Gutai: Splendid Playground) Nasaka recreated a famous work from his past. Using aluminum tubing, he produced a large scaffold that, like a spiral, wound its way up through the exhibition area.The movement of the piece drew a circle in space over and over, and was used as a support for displaying other artwork. Beginning with one of Michio Yoshihara ’s Circle paintings, the structure became a repeating frame for incorporating Gutai members’ two-dimensional works. In this way Senkichiro Nasaka was an early pioneer of ‘environmental art’, and he went on to actively participate in several other groups’ exhibitions of ‘environmental artwork’.