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Sumi Yasuo: Autonomy through Mess


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10 March - 9 April, 2016
Opening reception on 10 March, 2016

Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong is pleased to present AUTONOMY THROUGH MESS, Yasuo Sumi`s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong.

Born in Osaka in 1925, Sumi is renowned for painting with unconventional tools from everyday life, such as abacus, combs, umbrellas, and vibrating devices. His artistic career had started upon encountering Shozo Shimamoto, a founding member of Gutai and maintained close association with Sumi even after the Gutai`s disbandment in 1972. In Shimamoto`s essay "Killing the Paintbrush" published in 1956, he emphasized that paint has its own texture and materiality and Gutai sought to set it free by discarding brushes: "It is only once the paintbrush has been discarded that the paint can be revived." For Yasuo Sumi, he engaged his body with variety of unusual tools and created rhythmical dances of powerful swirls and parallel lines on paper, canvas, fabric and netting.

The artist also embraced discovering and expressing artist`s individual disposition and celebrated complete spiritual freedom through his philosophy: Yakekuso (desperation), fumajime (absence of seriousness) and charanporan (irresponsibility). For Sumi, freedom from any limit and past, and being a natural human shape is the core of his creation process.

`When people talk about nature, they are only interested in the outside world. But we are all part of nature too. That means that the power of nature also resides within us. Not thinking is your natural form. And you can create something when you`re in that state. If I create something when I`m in that natural state, the result is always messy and dirty`from `Yakekuso-Fumajime-Charanporan` pp. 116-117 by Yasuo Sumi

The exhibition in Hong Kong will be the first full retrospective of the late master Yasuo Sumi, who passed away last autumn while preparing this exhibition. Over 40 works spanning the artist`s six decades long career from his early works during 17-year engagement with the Gutai Art Association and latest creations, mostly never shown to public before, will be on display through generous support from Sumi family.

From the groundbreaking net works, which the artist liberated the painting from the traditional constrains and installed outside exhibition, to works on canvas and paper, it will be a rare chance to see the artist`s life works full of dynamic and delightful energy, from Sumi`s mesmerizing messiness.

Sumi`s works has been showcased in exhibitions across the world, including The Itami City Museum of Art Enchanting Mess: Sumi Yasuo in the 1950s(2015); the Guggenheim Museum, New York(2013); Museo Cantonale d`Arte, Lugano(2010); Galerie nationale de jeu de Paume, Paris(1999); and the 45th Venice Biennale, as part of the collateral exhibition Passage to the East(1993)

About Gutai art Association
The Gutai Art Association was an art group formed in 1954 by a collection of young artists living in the Kansai region and led by Jiro Yoshihara. The name "Gutai" was meant to "present concrete proof that our spirit is free.” "Sprit" was considered to be specific to each individual but also an abstract entity. Gutai's leader Yoshihara Jiro, therefore, relentlessly demanded that the group's members make art unlike any that had ever existed in the past, and further, that these expressions be abstract in nature. He also organized exhibitions to show their work in parks, on stage and in the sky in hopes of encouraging them to generate new ideas free of the existing framework of art. The group was highly acclaimed abroad and the name "GUTAI" came to be widely recognized in the Western art world in the late '50s.

Recently, The National Art Center, Tokyo (2012), and The Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013) presented the Gutai Art Association and its artists along with their challenging sprit and creative energy of the age.