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Norio Imai – Gutai Works

Exhibition details

Opening / Event Date:
28 October, 2015
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Closing / End Date:
7 January, 2016
Event Category:

Axel Vervoordt Gallery is pleased to present artist Norio Imai (b1946, Osaka, Japan) for exhibition in Hong Kong.   The exhibition highlights the artist’s monochrome whites that originate from the mid ‘60s, a period in which he joined the avant-garde Gutai movement.

Norio Imai’s work’s reflect on an increased shift toward the feminine, which is one of the most significant changes currently taking place in the world we live today. Imai’s work can be described as maternal, with fluid and matrixial qualities gaining importance over unambiguous masculinity. In this complete pureness, his works embrace all possibilities.

From the very start of his artistic career, Imai challenges the dogma of artistic convention. He creates bulbous reliefs inbetween object and painting, by placing material underneath the surface of his works. Imai creates monumental monochrome white paintings out of almost nothing. He considers white to be the ultimate colour, a non-colour that combines all colours in perfect harmony. Imai often repaints his work with an additional layer of paint to preserve the depth and purity of the whiteness. To him, white is a landscape made up of nothingness and emptiness.

In his own words:

It’s hard to give a brief explanation of White, because there are all kinds of Whites.More than a mere visual disparity, White is both a passive colour that can be painted over by other colours and a colour that can envelop and cover and blot out anything.… In a word, perhaps it is in itself something beyond coloration that sits on the border between existence and non-existence, or that straddles both sides of that boundary.” (Norio Imai, 2015)

The urge for new beginnings were found all over Europe during the 1950-60s. Parallel art movements such as the Italian (Azimut), German (Zero) and Dutch (Nul), were all looking for a fresh start. Similarly, Western artists explore the concept of the unknown and the void in order to move forward. The void, full of hope and meaning is the dimension that connects mankind. It is a universal concept understood in all cultures that crosses the boundaries of time.

From 1965 onwards, Imai added projections and moving structures to his works, creating a more kinetic type of art. After the break-up of Gutai in ’72, Imai began experimenting with photography and video with which conceptual tendencies were strengthened. Despite his deep engagement with digital media, his work ultimately points back to the importance of “lived” time, materials and human interaction.

Imai’s work is represented in many international collections e.g. The Dallas Museum of Art, The Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Osaka City Museum of Modern Art. In 2013, Imai presented at “Gutai – Splendid Playground” at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, where he exhibited an impressive installation called Tankuro Spheres Rendering. The same year, a monograph was published on the artist: Norio Imai, Axel & May Vervoordt Foundation, Belgium, 2013.


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