The Kido Press Story: Part III – Kumi Sugai & Hisao Domoto

For Part III of “The Kido Press Story,” Gallery KIDO Press is holding a special exhibition of works by Kumi Sugai (1919 – 1996) and Hisao Domoto (1928 – 2013), both of whom had a great impact on Japan’s postwar art scene and attained international renown. Through the lens of their prints from the 1980s, the exhibition will reassess their printmaking, which provided the drive for their successive opening of new horizons, and the relationship of influence between their paintings and prints. At the exhibition, Gallery KIDO Press is going to display and sell lithographs of five prints in whose production Hitoshi Kido was involved as the master printer at Gendai Hanga Kobo. These five consist of two works by Sugai, i.e.,Bleu and Diable (Rouge) (both produced in 1985), and three by Domoto from his series Chain Reaction | Water (all produced in 1983).

 

Kumi Sugai "Bleu" 1985, Lithograph, 82.5 x 59 cm © Kumi Sugai (Courtesy of Gallery KIDO Press)

Kumi Sugai “Bleu” 1985, Lithograph, 82.5 x 59 cm
© Kumi Sugai (Courtesy of Gallery KIDO Press)

 

Kumi Sugai "Diable (Rouge)" 1985, Lithograph, 82.5 x 59 cm © Kumi Sugai (Courtesy of Gallery KIDO Press)

Kumi Sugai “Diable (Rouge)” 1985, Lithograph, 82.5 x 59 cm
© Kumi Sugai (Courtesy of Gallery KIDO Press)

 

Sugai and Domoto first met in Paris in 1952. It was in June 1952 that Sugai made the journey to France, alone and fairly young at 33. Domoto first visited Europe in the same year, and the two became acquainted at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. The Paris of the mid 20th century was a thriving center of printed arts. The prints by Matisse in the 1930s were followed by works by many other artists including giants such as Picasso and Chagall, who produced excellent prints as well as outstanding paintings. Printing was in full flower as a genre of artistic expression. For Sugai and Domoto, who lived and worked in Paris against this sort of historical background, printed arts undoubtedly held special significance.

The first printed work unveiled by Sugai was his 1955 lithograph “Diable Rouge (Diable).” It is a lyrical depiction of the primitive image of a demon like those appearing in ancient Japanese myths, and a good manifestation of the attributes of his early works in the 1950s. As compared to this 1955 predecessor, his 1985 work “Diable (Rouge),” which is contained in this exhibition and also depicts a red demon, has a vastly different composition. It leaves a strong impact with its resolute symbolization or simplification. “Bleu” (1985), another of the works on exhibit, could be interpreted as heralding a major turning point in Sugai’s career with its many vicissitudes. This is because of its shapes and geometrical forms calling to mind the letter “S”, as if to presage the genesis of his iconic S series of works that he produced in succession as a new vector in the 1990s.
The production of Domoto’s “Chain Reaction | Water” series derived from the same concept as his series of works created with acrylic paints around the same time. The latter were displayed at an exhibition titled “Chain Reaction | Water” that was held at Nantenshi Gallery from the 12th to the 30th of April 1983. Yusuke Nakahara made some engrossing observations about the changes in Domoto’s art at the time, as follows.

“Domoto’s intention would be to try and link the painting face more closely to the water surface. By attempting to erase perspective depth as illusion from the painting, he tries to put everything in the surface. That is partly why he uses paper which is warped like waves by using acrylic paints. His painting style has changed from a descriptive painter to a non descriptive painter and his works seem to be clearly distinctive in character and originality.” – Excerpted from “Towards Wavy Paintings,” Yusuke Nakahara, in “Hisao Domoto 1983,” the catalogue for the exhibition at Nantenshi Gallery (published by Nantenshi Gallery, 1983).

Hisao Domoto "Chain Reaction | Water 2" 1983, Lithograph, 63.5 x 84.8 cm © Hisao Domoto (Courtesy of Gallery KIDO Press)

Hisao Domoto “Chain Reaction | Water 2” 1983, Lithograph, 63.5 x 84.8 cm
© Hisao Domoto (Courtesy of Gallery KIDO Press)

 

Hisao Domoto "Chain Reaction | Water 3" 1983, Lithograph, 63.5 x 84.8 cm © Hisao Domoto (Courtesy of Gallery KIDO Press)

Hisao Domoto “Chain Reaction | Water 3” 1983, Lithograph, 63.5 x 84.8 cm
© Hisao Domoto (Courtesy of Gallery KIDO Press)

 

In Domoto’s transition from paintings as depictions to anti-depictive works, the process of bringing out repeated editions of print productions served as a means for the artist himself to reaffirm the orientation of the new and as yet unknown art toward which he was unconsciously working. As such, it could be termed a mode of presentation closely integrated with his painting, like another side of the same coin.

Gallery KIDO Press
Address: 3331 Arts Chiyoda 204, 6-11-14, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo #101-0021
Tel & Fax: +81(0)3-5817-8988  E-mail: [email protected]  Web: www.kidopress.com
Gallery hours: 12:00–19:00  Closed on Monday, Tuesday, and National Holidays
*During the run of this exhibition, the gallery will be open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

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