Ulterior Gallery is pleased to present Microcosms, a new solo exhibition of paintings by Minoru Yoshida from the 1960s. The exhibition will open on May 18 and will be on view until July 1; an opening reception will be on May 18 from 6 to 8 pm.
Microcosms will be the first time that these pivotal paintings by Yoshida will be exhibited in the United States as a group. The majority of the works, executed in blue and white tones, are from 1963-64, a period in which Yoshida was gaining strong recognition and acclaim as an exciting emerging artist in Japan. A few from this series were exhibited at The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, in 2014, but this is the first time they will be on view together in New York since the artist’s passing in 2010. While considered some of his signature works of the period, they rarely have been seen outside of Japan before now. In 1964, impressed by his work, Kazuo Shiraga and Jiro Yoshihara invited Yoshida to participate in an exhibition at Gutai Pinacoteca, where he showed Blue Tulip (1964, currently in the collection of the Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka), an important large work from this era, at which time he was also invited to join the legendary post-war Japanese artist collective Gutai Art Association. As a second-generation member of Gutai and the only member from Kyoto, Yoshida was a unique and instrumental figure in the group’s history.
Working within an abstract vocabulary, Yoshida developed a noted body of work during the 60s. These relief-like painted works are constructed in a range of primarily blue tones, and incorporate three-dimensional elements onto their surfaces. Yoshida’s works broaden the traditional territory of painting, exploring greater artistic freedom and the expansion of the field of two-dimensional plane. Yoshida developed various motifs, often organic shapes that appear to be in motion, and simplified abstract patterns that resemble floral forms, female genitalia, and microorganisms. Yoshida’s imagery gives us insight into the artist’s ways of observing his environs, and his attention to micro and macro elements within the natural and man-made worlds. These paintings are natural precursors to Yoshida’s sculptural practice that followed soon after he joined Gutai Art Association, resulting in seminal works such as Bisexual Flower (1969) and Just Curve ‘67: 12 Polycycle (1967).
Minoru Yoshida was born in 1935 in Osaka and studied paintings at Kyoto City University of Fine Arts, Kyoto, Japan. Yoshida joined the post-war Japanese artist collective Gutai Art Association in 1965. In 1970, Yoshida left Japan to live and work in downtown New York, producing performance pieces, including ones featuring his Synthesizer Jacket. He participated in the New York Avant-garde Festival curated by Charlotte Moorman for several consecutive years, and also performed at Artist’s Space and on the streets of the city. He returned to Kyoto in 1978 and continued to produce works that bridged performance and art. His works are in the collections of The Warehouse, Dallas, TX; Ashiya City Museum of Art and History, Hyogo, Japan; Ohara Museum of Art, Okayama, Japan; Takamatsu Municipal Museum, Kagawa, Japan; Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Niigata, Japan; and National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan.
His exhibition history and past awards include: Into the Unknown World—Gutai: Differentiation and Integration, Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka and National Museum of Art, Osaka; Sound as a Sculpture, The Warehouse Dallas, Dallas, TX (2022); Wave of Light, Ulterior Gallery, New York, NY (2020, solo); Performances in New York, Ulterior Gallery, New York, NY (2018, solo); Gutai: Splendid Playground, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (2013); Possible Future: Japanese Postwar Art and Technology, Inter Communication Center, Tokyo, Japan (2005); Florescent Chrysanthemum: Contemporary Japanese Art, ICA London, UK (1968); Gendai no Kuukan ’68: Hikari to Kankyo [Contemporary Space ’68: Lights and Environment], Kobe Sogo Department Store, Hyogo (1968); Nihon Kokusai Bijutsu-ten [Japan International Art Exhibition], Ohara Museum Purchase Prize (1967), Toyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo and Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Kyoto, Japan; Mainichi Gendai Bijutsu-ten [Mainichi Contemporary Art Exhibition], Concour Award (1966). Minoru Yoshida’s works and exhibitions are reviewed recently in The New York Time, The Brooklyn Rail, Artforum, Art Asia Pacific, Real Tokyo, and Kyoto Shimbun.