MOTONAGA Sadamasa - The Fluffy World Part II
(By appointment only)

June 01 [Tue.] ― June 12 [Sat.] 2021 11:00-19:00
Gallery closed on Sunday, Monday, and national holidays.
*For an appointment, please e-mail or call us before your visit.

*Click images to view in original size.


Motonaga Sadamasa (1922-2011) was born in Mie Prefecture. He initially set out to be a manga-ka, but switched paths to be a visual artist from the end of the 1940s. In 1955, he joined Gutai, the group based in Kansai, and entered the tutelage of Yoshihara Jiro. Based on the Gutai concept of "Don't imitate anybody else. Make something that doesn't yet exist," he created many experimental works like an installation of hanging plastic bags filled with colored water, and rocks painted with enamel with straws stuck on them. From 1958, he drew inspiration from the tarashikomi (dripping) method employed in Japanese paintings and made his own paintings that used tarashikomi. These fluid works gave Motonaga much global attention, giving him recognition as one of the revolutionary informel artists of the time. In 1964, he was awarded at the Contemporary Japanese Art Exhibition, and continued to be active in international art exhibitions around the world. During his 1966 residency program in New York, he traded paint for other materials like airbrush and acrylic, and once again pursued the shapes he had drawn in his early years. From 1970, he expanded his field of expression and created many prints with the Gendai Hanga Center. Motonaga is also widely regarded as a picture book author, with "Mokomokomoko", the book he made with the poet Tanikawa Shuntaro, still well loved by children today, 40 years after its publication. With achievements such as the Japan Art Award in 1983, and being the first avant garde artist to receive the Purple Medal of Honor in 1991, Motonaga has proven his place as a representative of Japanese abstract artists, in both name and substance.

This exhibition commemorates the 10th anniversary of his death with a display of 26 works centered on editions from the Gendai Hanga Center. We hope you will enjoy Motonaga's humorous shapes, colorful smudges, and gradiations.

Born 1922 in Mie Prefecture, Motonaga attended Ueno Commercial High School in Iga. After graduation, he moved to Osaka, and from 1955, he participated in the Gutai Art Association. In 1964, Motonaga received the Japanese Art Academy Award (Nitten), and in 1966 was invited to New York for the residency program of the Japan Society. He extensively traveled Europe in the following year, and then returned to Japan. Motonaga proceeded to become one of Japan’s representative abstract painters. He exhibited at the Venice Biennale of 1993, and in 1997 received the Order of the Rising Sun, 4th class. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 88.

Major exhibitions: Invited exhibitor at 1997 Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Art, Slovenia / 2000 Art Fair in Bologna, Italy / 2003 Agency for Cultural Affairs Purchasing Superior Art Work Exhibition, Japan Art Academy Hall, Tokyo / 2007 "Chic of Japanese Prints" Contemporary Print Exhibition, Nanto Fukumitsu Art museum, Toyama / 2011 Artists around Yoshihara Hideo Exhibition, The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama / 2013 New Collection "Shinanobashi Gallery's", Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art / 2016 Temptation of printmaking, Tonami Art Museum, Toyama / 2016 The 13th Gongju International Art Festival, Lim Lip Art Museum, Korea / 2018 Summer Museum Project #8 "Time Travel", The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama / 2018 "New Wave": Japanese Contemporary Art of the 1980s, The National Museum of Art, Osaka.

“I’m not one of the intellectuals, I’m one of the idiots,” said Motonaga, who was not only active in oil painting and installation art, but from the 1970s onwards also devoted a lot of energy to printmaking. Motonaga’s way of naming his own works also was particular. Among the works in the editions we produced, just reading those titles in their original Japanese rendering (such as Funyara kunyara, Papapipipu, Heap of Color Balls =“Kasane irodama”, Folding Green =“Ore-gurin” etc.) already is quite amusing.

Gallery view