Japanese artist Tsuyoshi Maekawa (°1936) first participated in an exhibition, held by the post-war avant-garde artist group Gutai, in 1959 – two years after the group published a manifest with the credos “to do something that has not been done before”, “to go beyond abstraction” and “pursue pure creativity”. Group members tried to understand abstraction by joining human qualities with those of pure materials. For Maekawa, who formally became a member in 1962, that was burlap.
The burlap bags were mounted on a canvas, painted, folded, cut and shredded. Maekawa did this until 1972, when Gutai was rescinded, and afterwards looked for ways to continue the spirit of the group. He founded his own studio in 1974, started teaching to children to pass on the artistic ideals. His style got lighter and more refined in an attempt to present the fabric’s delicate features. In the eighties, he used thinner canvasses and more refined stitching. During those years, on which this exhibition will focus, Maekawa seemed to shape the Gutai’s esthetics into his own style and interpretation.