Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong is pleases to announce its inaugural exhibition ‘Chiyu Uemae : A Solitary Path.’ As one of the founding members of the Gutai Art Association, a historical Japanese avant-garde art movement formed in 1954, Uemae had maintained a consistent association with the group right until its disbandment in 1972.
This self-taught artist`s picture plane is filled with accumulation of media and striking colors, and sometimes hides the colors underneath with monochrome on the surface. Its intensity creates a rich, concentrated visual impression of the materiality of the paint which was emphasized through the Gutai Manifesto (by Jiro Yoshihara, 1956): “work in a more intense and proactive manner. What matters are not the results, but rather actions that would leave traces of the self within the material”.
Many of artistes including Kazuo Shiraga and Shozo Shimamoto responded by making performativity works while Uemae consistently engraves his experience into the work leaving the “Trace of the self” as a struggling artist to adapt to society, and his daily life spent working in metal casting factories and a shipyard where the artist describe as an ‘exquisite magical city.’
“I used to work for many years at the shipbuilding factory and the steelmaking plant. These environment and settings, as well as the materials that I encountered at these factories, became basis for my work.” (Chiyu Uemae, 2012)
Around 1976, Uemae started showing hand-stitch works inspired by his experience as a young apprentice in his youth. These were painstakingly done with needle and fine thread, and with repetitive movements and accumulation of thin threads, the artist created mesmerizing pieces in large-scale with unique texture. Uemae tirelessly produced his stitch works which he described ‘Invest a piece of my very spirit in them, shortening my life so that the work may live’ (2015) for its time and amount of energy he needed to create stitch works.
It is the first solo exhibition of the artist in Hong Kong, and the gallery worked closely with Chiyu Uemae Foundation to bring the artist’s most cherished collections including large-scale stich works and sculptures.
Artworks spanning his masterpieces from the 1960s to recent creations, the gallery try to focus on this ninety-four year old artist Chiyu Uemae and his life works. Uemae’s works require great deal of time, handwork, and craftsmanship. And the artist never mined walking alone his solitary path regardless of his being a member of Gutai or born with extreme poverty. His diligent labor and stubborn artistic pursuit of esthetics through abstraction shines through the art works with the artist’s ‘Trace of the self.’
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring writings, and photographs by the artist and an original essay by an art critique, curator Hiroyuki Nakatsuka.
About the artist
Chiyu Uemae was born in Kyoto prefecture, Japan in 1920 and lives and works in his studio in Maiko, Hyogo prefecture. He started studying under Jiro Yoshihara from 1953 and participated in the formation of Gutai Art Association in 1954. Uemae participated several historical Gutai exhibitions including; the International Art of a New Era: Gutai and Informel exhibition; Gutai Art Exhibition in New York(1958), Martha Jackson Gallery (1958); The continute et Avant-garde au Japon, International Centre of Aesthetic Research, Turin, Italy (1961); Groupe Gutai, Galerie Stadler, Paris (1965); NUL 1966 Art Exhibition, Netherlands (1966); Gutai Art Exhibition at Expo`70, Osaka (1970). And recently his works were included the exhibitions; GUTAI: The Spirit of an Era, the National Art center, Tokyo(2012); Destroying the Picture – Painting the Void 1949-1962, Los Angeles MOCA(2012); GUTAI: Splendid Playground, the Guggenheim Museum, New York(2013), Parallel Views: Italian and Japanese Art from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, The Warehouse, Dallas(2014).
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.
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Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong
28F, Global Trade Square, 21 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong
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