Experience the playful works by Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka who, in the 1950s and 1960s, challenged the boundaries of art. In post-war Japan, a period infused by the overhanging threat of nuclear war, Tanaka along with other members of the Gutai group wanted to break away from academic art and start again from square one. With simple, everyday materials and radical practices, they sought a new art for a new era. Atsuko Tanaka (1932–2005) was part of the Osaka-based Gutai group in 1955–1965. These artists wanted to dissolve the boundary between art and life. Like many other members of the Gutai group, Tanaka explored everyday materials and performative practices.

Atsuko Tanaka created “Denkifuku (Electric Dress)” for a performance in 1956. It consisted of hundreds of coloured lightbulbs, and when she wore it on stage, their pulsating light illuminated the room like electrified blood circulating through her body. Technology and body were fused in the hallucinatory light-play of the modern city. The intense colours in “Denkifuku” recur in several abstract paintings in this exhibition, where networks of circles and lines are repeated in complex circuit diagrams. The same gesture is repeated in the film documentation of “Round on Sand” (1968), where Tanaka instead draws circles in the sand until the waves wash them away and the process starts over.

See Atsuko Tanaka’s works in an exhibition that explores her early oeuvre in depth, along with the playful spirit of the Gutai group’s experimental and interdisciplinary art.