Yuko Nasaka participated in the Gutai group during the first half of the '60s, and despite being a second-generation member of the Gutai Art Association, her creativity and original style were never eclipsed by any among its first-generation of artists. Jiro Yoshihara, leader of the Gutai group, writing in an essay for one of her solo exhibitions in 1964, noted the exceptional single-mindedness and concentration she brought to each of her works. She invested inordinate amounts of physical effort in producing her large-scale works, even in a style involving only rows circular motifs, and yet never gave up—in fact insisted—on exhibiting pieces of imposing scale. Yoshihara teasingly noted that 'because of her crafty structures of plates, every time we have a group exhibition, we end up having to allot the largest amount of space to her. How does this petite little Yuko Nasaka—quiet, seldom speaking, gentle—manage to hide such wide-ranging possibilities? It always gives us great hope to see the freshness and commitment in her work.'
Nasaka's family business involved manufacturing measuring devices, so as a child she saw the round dials of pressure or temperature gauges on a regular basis. Thus, since she typically based her creative work on these early memories, Nasaka created circular forms just as Yoshihara did, yet their work differed entirely in conception and outlook. The beautiful work featured here comprises six different sets of concentric circles in a rectangular arrangement, giving it a slimmer and more fashionably modern appearance than could a single circle by itself, or a square comprised of four such circles. The work begins with creamy white in the upper right, around which other circles appear in varying principal shades of Dutch blue, turquoise, or Grecian blue; Nasaka takes advantage of the lustre of lacquer paint and its mixtures to present shadowy highlights or subtle variations in the depth of their colours. Thus, despite being composed of six individual, independent sets of concentric circles, the result of their juxtaposition in the work is not a brash combination of individual voices, but rather an intriguing illusion of circles revolving in harmonious and simultaneous motion.
Viewers of this work are invited further inside by the mysterious palette of cool colors that dominates Nasaka's concentric circles, and out of curiosity to see what secrets might be hidden at their center, are drawn into an endlessly spinning vortex. With effects resembling those of the famous Fraser spiral illusion, which also derives from concentric circles, Yuko Nasaka's 6 Pieces is a work of depth and beauty, one that possesses its own balance while also challenging our visual sense and our psychological limits.