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Property From An Important Private Asian Collection


signed and titled in Japanese; dated '1963' (on the sticker affixed on the back of the frame)
resin, lacquer spray on board
135.6 x 90.4 cm. (53 3/8 x 35 5/8 in.)
Executed in 1963
one seal of the artist (on the sticker affixed on the back of the frame)
Private Collection, Asia
Whitestone Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Private Collection, Asia
Karuizawa New Art Museum, Whitestone Art Foundation, Gutai: Still alive 2015 vol.1, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, 2015 (illustrated, p. 71)

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

Yuko Nasaka was born in 1938. The circle, as a personal motif, figures prominently in her work (Fig. 1).
Early in the 20th century, Western surrealism advocated a kind of 'automatism' or 'automatic drawing' that they believed would stimulate mental associations. That style would exert a major influence on later artists working with total abstraction. Frottage (textural effects or impressions from rubbings) and grattage (a scraping technique) were both accidental discoveries made by artists during the creative process; they produce surprising marbling and veining on the surface, and create textures not normally possible with ordinary watercolour or oil techniques.
Japan in the '60s was becoming ever more industrialized. Yuko Nasaka experimented with the use of new industrial materials in painting; in her work, sometimes resembling relief sculpture, she carved circles like the grooves of vinyl LP recordings, then coated them with enamels from a paint gun for greater texture and brilliance. Given that her family operated a factory, her feeling for the round dials of measuring devices seems to have become unconsciously bound up with the sculpted shapes in her works.
Chung Sang-Hwa is another well-known Asian artist who worked with the conceptually similar technique of frottage (Fig. 2). Here, his virtually monochromatic painting appears simple, yet the beautiful veins and textures of its small squares, like porcelain tiles, demonstrate how much of a work's appeal and success can reside in the unique surfaces and details of the particular medium employed.
Yuko Nasaka and Tsuyoshi Maekawa perfectly exemplify artists engaged in a deep exploration of the connections between tradition and innovation. Nasaka deliberately refuses to overly embellish her concentric circles; they contain slight imperfections like those of traditional ceramics in Japan, where the remnant markings indicative of hand-worked materials were valued over more finely finished surfaces.

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