Ay-O, whose eccentric name is written with two obscure Chinese characters which translate as ‘cloud’ and ‘nausea’, was in fact born named Takao Iijima in 1931 in Ibaraki Prefecture. He was active as an artist in Japan during the 1950s and attracted attention for his brightly-coloured oil paintings. In 1958 he moved to New York, coincidentally the same year as Minoru Kawabata and Yayoi Kusama. In 1963 he became a member of the Fluxus movement which was founded in 1961 and largely active in New York and West Germany, but is remarkable for the central presence of a number of artists from Japan, including Yoko Ono, Takako Saito and Ay-O. He started to use objects in order to establish dialogues with the viewer that can be perceived through the senses. His ‘finger boxes’ involved the insertion of a finger into a hole in the side of a box to feel a material concealed inside (such as beads, hair, nails, sponges), thereby breaking free from the confines of the canvas. He was also known for his performance events when he was active in Fluxus.
During the mid-1960s he rejected the concept of creating work containing lines, instead developing his ‘rainbow’ works which are entirely filled with the colours of the spectrum and are completely devoid of defined outlines. In some examples there can be up to 190 gradations of colour. Rainbow Landscape B, offered here, is a rare work from this period and is his rainbow in it’s purest form. Ay-O’s obsession with the rainbow was expressed in a variety of genres including prints, paintings and installations, and still continues to the present day.
Ay-O represented Japan at the Venice Biennale in 1966 and at the São Paulo Biennale in 1971 and his work has entered numerous museum collections.
For a finger box (Finger Box, 1964) in the collection of MOMA, New York, go to:http:/www.moma.org/collection/works/128028?locale=en
For a rainbow work from the same period as Rainbow Landscape B in the collection of The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, go to:http:/search.artmuseums.go.jp/search_e/records.php?sakuhin=4787