"Viewing Q Eifs Late Pointillist Works Online"
This year, 2020, marks the 60th anniversary of Q Eifs death. His late pointillist works, "Flow (B)" (1958), "Dance of Red (tent.)" (1958), "Tasogare (Dusk)" (1959), were brought together for this commemorative exhibition, which, with the escalating threat of COVID-19, has been moved online. Although itfs a shame to lose the face to face opportunity, perhaps we can take advantage of this opportunity to focus on the experience of viewing works through a computer screen. When considering Q Eifs work, such an approach surely has some meaning.
Between 1957 and 1959, Q Ei expanded his art style from abstract gatherings of small circular shapes to increasingly minute, sensitive pointillism ? the fruits of this development were shown at a solo exhibition at Kabutoya Gallery in 1960 (2/23-28). Of this exhibition, Ogawa Masataka wrote the following review:
gQ Ei is holding his first solo exhibition in 6 years. The 9 works from 1958 and beyond range from size 60 (130x97cm) to 200 (259x182cm). In fact, only 2 of the works are smaller than size 100 (162x130cm). Q Ei has been on bedrest since November of last year, but his adamant desire to hold an exhibition as soon as he could, with the help of his friends, made this show possible.
What is interesting about this review is Ogawafs comparison of Q Eifs pointillism to art informel. This movement, slowly introduced to Japan from the beginning of the 1950s, gathered major attention after 1956fs Exposition Internationale de lfArt Actuel. Michel Tapie, the art critic considered a major maker of the movement, visited Japan in 1957, triggering a frenzy which was even called the ginformel whirlwindh. While the word itself, informel, can mean irregular, undefined, shapeless, a particularly important influence the movement had on Japanese artists, as Kato Mizuho puts forward, was a shift in orientation to a focus on action and material (2). In this regard, Ogawafs review is correct. Q Eifs pointillist works are certainly of gundefined shapeh in style, but one could easily say of them, gtheir essence is in fact quite the opposite of the usual impulsive, straightforward style of art informelh. The question now turns to the nature of this gessenceh.
1. Works of concentric circles formed by the nesting of small and large circles
If we were to categorize the works from the current exhibition, gDance of Redh would fit into category 2, gFlow (B)h into a combination of 1 and 3, and gTasogare (Dusk)h into 5. If we pay attention to the way the paint was applied, we can see that as the works go from the 1st to 5th category, the application of the paint gradually thins, its materiality reducing, with the purity of the visual elements growing stronger.
Of course, I must hasten to remind that in Q Eifs day, this manner of viewing was hardly an option ? his own ideal viewing method was something completely different. Kimizu Ikuo, a collector from Fukui and a supporter of Q Ei, made the following statement. In the summer of 1958, when Kimizu first received the pointillist piece gMahiru (Midday)h from Q Ei, he couldnft understand its true value. gIt was a fine day. I took the painting out to the yard and looked at it in the sunlight. And there, what did I see? - the black I was so concerned about glittered a silver gray, Q Eifs blues, his yellows, and reds in concert became so vividly brilliant and mobile. It was dynamically reflecting that fierce sense of life from the sunlight of that precise moment. What pride ? what presence ? I remember how my insides trembled so,h he said. The next year, gin November, I learned of Q Eifs hospitalization and went to his bedside in Urawa. He lay there in his bed and said, eIfve finished some large works, so I want you to take them out into the yard to see.f We brought the works from his atelier out into the yard and looked at them like he told us to. -The way we each put in a reservation for one of those large works should be testament to the utter astonishment of those of us who had glimpsed Q Eifs cosmosh (5).
(1) gAn In-Depth Q Ei Solo Exhibition.h Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 28, 1960, p.7
(2) Kato Mizuho, gThe Reception of Art Informel in Japanh, Sogetsu and Its Era 1945-1970 , Exhibition Catalogue, Sogetsu and Its Era Exhibition Committee, Oct. 1998, pp.88-98
(3) Seo Noriaki, gA Bugless Afternoon ? Q Eifs Pointillist Workh, Q Ei The Avant-garde Artists Big Adventure, Exhibition Catalogue, The Shoto Museum of Art, Aug. 2004, pp. 8-9
(4) Umezu Gen gMatiere and Gestureh, Fossilization: Imprinted Light Ei-kyu and Photogram Images, Exhibition Catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Jun. 1997, p.114
(5) Kimizu Ikuo, gI Like Q Eih, Q Ei, Father of Contemporary Art, Exhibition Catalogue, Odakyu Grand Gallery, Jun. 1979
(6) Q Ei, gOn My Worksh, Q Ei Photo-Dessin, Exhibition Catalogue, Sankakudo (Osaka), Nishimura Music Store (Miyazaki), Jun. 1936
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