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Yuko Nasaka Biography

One of the few female figures of the influential Gutai Art Association, Yuko Nasaka is a leading Japanese avantgarde artist. She is known for her minimalist, concentric circular compositions that are luminous and rich in texture.

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Born in Osaka in 1938, Yuko Nasaka's artistic aspirations began with oil painting in junior high school and developed further in the Osaka Prefectural Ichioka High School art club. Her early ground-breaking works, after graduating from university and getting married, involved drilling many holes into large, monochromatic, grey surfaces.

In 1962 Nasaka was inspired by Kazuo Shiraga—a classmate of her husband, Senkichiro Nasaka, at Kyoto City Specialist School of Painting—to submit her work to the 15th Ashiya City Exhibition. As well as winning the Mayor's Prize, her work attracted the attention of Gutai co-founder Jiro Yoshihara, who admired 'the rigorous spirit' with which she worked.

In 1963 Yuko Nasaka was invited to join the Gutai Artist Association, becoming a key figure of the group's second-generation. The second generation was defined by a shift from gestural abstraction to minimalist inclinations. Her art from this period kept with the Gutai hallmarks of experimenting inventively, using modern industrial materials, and offering infinite possible meanings.

As part of Gutai, Yuko Nasaka made a modular series of square wooden panels that she had coated in a thin layer of plaster, glue, and clay, and spun on a mechanical turntable. As they rotated, she carved concentric circular patterns into the material with a palette knife, later finishing the panels with a layer of car lacquer, sprayed by an auto-factory air compressor.

For her first solo exhibition—seen by prominent artists like John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg—at Gutai Pinacotheca in 1964, Nasaka displayed these paintings in a large grid to create a mural. This composition of multiple panels has remained a constant in the artist's work.

The main point of difference between Yuko Nasaka's works from the 20th century and her more recent output from the 21st century is a slight shift in colour palette: from bold synthetic colours, such as the sharp blue of Untitled (1964), to somewhat more earthy, natural tones like the deep greens across the 12 panels of Untitled (2015).

Over the decades, Yuko Nasaka's art has been exhibited widely in Japan and across the globe. Her works can be found in the collections of major public institutions such as Tate, London; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Osaka City Museum of Modern Art.

Yuko Nasaka Solo Exhibitions include:

Yuko Nasaka, Axel Veervordt Gallery, Wijnegem, Belgium (2019); Yuko Nasaka, S|2 Gallery, London (2017); Nasaka Senkichiro and Yuko Exhibition, ABC Gallery, Osaka (1986); Yuko Nasaka, Osaka Contemporary Art Center (1985); Yuko Nasaka, Petite Imabashi Gallery, Osaka (1969); Yuko Nasaka, Gutai Pinacotheca, Osaka (1964).

Yuko Nasaka Group Exhibitions include:

INTUITION, Fortuny Palace, Venice (2017); Gutai: Splendid Playground, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013); Gutai: The Spirit of an Era, The National Art Center, Tokyo (2012); 2e Salon International des Galeries Pilotes Lausanne, Palais de Rumine, Lausanne, Switzerland (1966).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Yuko Nasaka
featured artworks

Work GAY-7 by Yuko Nasaka contemporary artwork painting
Yuko Nasaka Work GAY-7, 1965 Lacquer, resin on board
45 x 45 cm
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Untitled NY-64 by Yuko Nasaka contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Yuko Nasaka Untitled NY-64, 2014 Acrylic and resin on board
60 x 60 cm
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Work NY-60 by Yuko Nasaka contemporary artwork painting, mixed media
Yuko Nasaka Work NY-60, 1967 Resin lacquer on board
35 x 35 cm
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Work GAY-23 by Yuko Nasaka contemporary artwork painting
Yuko Nasaka Work GAY-23, 1978 Resin and lacquer on board
60 x 60 cm
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Untitled NY-5 by Yuko Nasaka contemporary artwork sculpture, mixed media
Yuko Nasaka Untitled NY-5, 1964 Resin and lacquer on board
35 x 35 cm
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Untitled by Yuko Nasaka contemporary artwork mixed media
Yuko Nasaka Untitled, 1979 Resin and lacquer on board
60 x 60 cm
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Untitled by Yuko Nasaka contemporary artwork mixed media
Yuko Nasaka Untitled, 2014 Resin and lacquer on board
60 x 60 cm
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Untitled by Yuko Nasaka contemporary artwork mixed media
Yuko Nasaka Untitled, 2015 Resin and lacquer on board
135 x 180 cm
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Yuko Nasaka
recent exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

Axel Vervoordt Gallery contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong
Axel Vervoordt Gallery Hong Kong, Antwerp
Whitestone Gallery contemporary art gallery in Taipei, Taiwan
Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei +2
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