May 5, 2013

ART: Gutai at the Guggenheim

Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/VySyn Photography
"Gutai art does not alter matter. Gutai art imparts life to matter." 
-Gutai Manifesto

Yesterday, I checked out the Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim on the exhibition's closing weekend.

It was my first time visiting the Guggenheim (if you have not been, you need to go once in your lifetime). The venue is it's own immaculate work of art, I must admit! Ok..back to the art.

Gutai: Splendid Playground presents the creative spectrum of Japan’s most influential avant-garde collective of the postwar era. Founded by the visionary artist Yoshihara Jirō in 1954, the Gutai group was legendary in its own time. Its young members explored new art forms combining performance, painting, and interactive environments, and realized an “international common ground” of experimental art through the worldwide reach of their exhibition and publication activities. Against the backdrop of wartime totalitarianism, Gutai forged an ethics of creative freedom, breaking through myriad boundaries to create some of the most exuberant works and events in the history of Japanese and international avant-garde art. 

Immediately, when I walked into the museum, visitors were bombarded with Yoshihara’s Please Draw Freely, a collective drawing on a freestanding signboard re-conceived for the Guggenheim’s rotunda and created by visitors, invites adults and children to collaborate, think, and imagine for themselves. And, when you look up as you are propelled to do at the Guggenheim, you see a recreation of Motonaga Sadamasa’s magisterial work (Water) that lingers above consisting of polyethylene tubes of varying widths filled with brightly-colored water between the rotunda levels, making giant brushstrokes out of catenaries in the open air that catch the sunlight.

How cool is that!?

As I made my way up the rotunda's ramp, you feel like you are transcending levels of your own art consciousness and constantly questioning the definition of visual art - what is art? who decides that? how is art created? 

That was my take away from this journey. 

The presentation of these works and the works themselves rendered me speechless. The works that resonated with me were Shiraga Kazuo's Wild Boar Hunting (both the work and his creative process), Tanaka Atsuko's Electric Dress and Shimamoto Shozo's animated film (distorted with vinegar and paint to create another art form).


You have got to see this exhibit for yourselves! The showing at the Guggenheim is through Thursday, May 8th! Also be sure to view the video about the exhibit, here.


Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/VySyn Photography