Passing Through by Saburo Murakami (1956)

Passing Through by Saburo Murakami (1956)

S+ Stimulant: The Gutai Group


‘We have decided to pursue enthusiastically the possibilities of pure creativity. We believe that by merging human qualities and material properties, we can concretely comprehend abstract space.’ – Jiro Yoshihara

Like many artistic movements of the 20th Century, Gutai art is all about experimentation; it has no rules and welcomes all pursuits and mediums whether they are actions, objects or sounds. However, unlike other movements, Gutai’s founder, Jiro Yoshihara, believed that in order to achieve a state of pure creativity it was vital to utilise the relationship between the body and the spirit in order to achieve this level of art.

Developed in post-war Japan in 1954, Yoshihara founded the movement as a reaction to wartime tensions with the vision of creating a new vision on individuality and community. The group believed that communities that fostered the creativity of the individual would lead to a more liberal and free thinking collective consciousness.

Examples of Gutai art include Saburo Murakami who punctured paper with his body, Atsuko Tanaka who wore a dress of flashing light bulbs and Kazuo Shiraga who wrestled in cement, gravel, clay plaster, pebbles and twigs.

At the heart of the Gutai movement lies a vein of cohesion, regarding both community and that of the body and spirit. It makes sense that in order to grow and search for pure truth and creativity we should operate as individuals within a collective consciousness; it also makes sense that we should create a similar cohesion within ourselves. Often we find that we can’t fully express ourselves mentally or creatively if our bodies are tired, and likewise we struggle to find a good physical rhythm if we’re mentally disconnected. Yoshihara and the Gutai movement realised that in order to fire effectively on all cylinders it’s important to find an inner harmony; and in order to take on exterior conflicts we first have to resolve the interior ones.


Published: June 18th, 2015

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