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    Sale 12515

    Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)

    28 May 2016, Convention Hall

  • Lot 83

    YUICHI INOUE (Japanese, 1916 - 1985)

    Yume (Dream)

    Price Realised  


    YUICHI INOUE (Japanese, 1916 - 1985)
    Yume (Dream)
    ink on Japanese paper
    214 x 115 cm. (84 ¼ x 45 ¼ in.)
    Executed in 1966

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    An iconic figure of post-war Japanese modern calligraphy, Yuichi Inoue began gaining international recognition early on since the 1950s, with his work showcased in the Sao Paulo Biennial alongside Western abstract artists such as Jackson Pollock, Hans Hartung, and Pierre Soulages. Other important exhibitions that he contributed in include Modern Japanese Calligraphy, an exhibition that toured in Europe, and documenta in Kassel, demonstrating the wide recognition from the international art community to him as an artist and also to the genre of Japanese modern calligraphy.

    He co-founded the avant-garde society for calligraphy, Bokujin Kai (Fig.1), and seeing the growing prominence with abstract expressionism in the West, he began advocating liberation from calligraphy's conservative doctrines for the pursuit of free, unrestricted calligraphic expressions. After experimenting with non-textual abstract art and using enamel paint rather than the ink of calligraphy tradition, Inoue then realized that once calligraphy strays from its textual base, it seizes to hold any value for existing. The realization led him back to working with brush and ink and the development of his own unique art rhetoric. The larges sheets of paper that Inoue worked with by physically immersing himself in are documentations of the artist's physical movements, energies, and also the spiritual states that he was in during those moments (Fig. 2). He also developed an ink application method to overcome the restriction of not being able to affix granulated textures with conventional ink on papers of massive scale, resulting in distinctive visual effects similar to the technique of using overnight ink (or dried ink).

    Inoue designated a distinctive creative theme for himself throughout different stages in his creative career, with focus placed on kanji characters that had unique meanings to him. He takes on and isolates the logographic Kanji character to reflect on the relationship between the meaning and its form, thus questioning the notion of representation and significance with the use of a sign. Originally imported from China and also known as Han character, the Kanji is one of the three sets of characters used in Japanese writing, after a process of adaptation to the language and culture. Once a pictorial symbol the Kanji lost its visual literacy along its evolution, an abstraction that Yu-ichi fully integrates in his practice. Yume, Dream is a recurrent theme in Yu-ichi’s oeuvre in the 1960s. A meaningful anecdote says that he once wrote the character and had his mother, who was bed-ridden with illness, write it based thereon. After his mother died of illness, he had this calligraphic work of hers mounted on the quilt that had covered her bed for so many years. One understands the emotional charge of the word in resonance with the artist's personal experience. Dream, which represents one of the four states of consciousness linking the real with the unreal in Buddhism has a very symbolic position for the artist.


    Private Collection, Asia

    Pre-Lot Text



    Masaomi Unagami (ed.), UNAC TOKYO, YU-ICHI (Yu-ichi INOUE): Catalogue Raisonné of the works, 1949-1985 (Vol. 1 1949-1969), Japan, 2000 (Catalogue No.: 66077).
    Karuizawa New Art Museum, Inoue Yuichi: Painting with All of One’s Heart, and the Avant-Garde Art of Calligraphy, Japan, 2012 (illustrated in black and white, p.16)