Three decades of paintings from the estate of the Japanese artist Minoru Onoda, who featured in The Guggenheim Museum’s important recent survey of post-war Japanese art, Gutai: Splendid Playground, are to be exhibited at the Anne Mosseri-Marlio Galerie in Basel.
Minoru Onoda is recognised as an important figure in the second wave of the Gutai Group. In 1965, after his participation in the 3rd International Exhibition for Young Artists in Paris in 1964, he joined the group as one of its youngest members, and remained faithful thereafter to the dictum of the group’s founder, Jiro Yoshihara: 'Do what has never been done before'.
Onoda exhibited consistently in Japan throughout his life, rarely travelling abroad. His work has only occasionally been exhibited in the West, and never before as a solo exhibition. This will also be the first time that work from his estate, represented by the Anne Mosseri-Marlio Galerie, will be available for public and private collections to acquire.
The title of the exhibition, MARU, which means circle, derives from the artist’s continuous engagement with the most cosmic of geometric shapes. From the early 1960s, after he had left The Osaka School of Art, and in reaction to the type of ‘Art Informel’ where ‘all paintings looked like walls’, Onoda began covering his paintings with arrangements of blue and black dots to create optical illusions and movement. These blossom into meticulous, multicoloured, biomorphic dot paintings which he called ‘sky dreams’. With these swirling, almost psychedelic paintings he explored the ideas of multiplication and mass production which he described in his manifesto, ‘Paintings of Proliferation’ (1961). Onoda exhibited in all the Gutai Group exhibitions that took place in Japan between 1965 and 1972.
In the 1970s he came closer to ‘Op art’, painting larger, radiating planetary circles which float weightlessly, alone or in ordered groups, within seemingly monochrome, but teeming, detailed canvases. These compositions are less biomorphic, more simplified and mechanistic. As the 1980s progressed, Onoda focused more on the flat surface of the painting and its edges; it appears as if the paint oozed another colour at its perimeter.
Significant holdings of his work are in numerous museum collections, including Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, Japan; The Miyagi Museum of Art, Japan; Himeji City Museum of Art, Japan; Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan.
The Gutai Group (1954–1972) was the first radical artistic movement after World War II in Japan. Formed against a background of social and political release after years of autocratic rule in Japan, its basic tenets were experimentation and the abandonment of rules. This influential group was involved in large-scale multimedia environments, performances, and theatrical events and emphasised the relationship between body and matter in pursuit of originality.
Press release courtesy Anne Mosseri-Marlio Galerie.
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