The calligrapher Yu-ichi Inoue is one of the most creative representatives of the post-World War II Japanese avant-garde. Transcending conventions and traditional rules, he elevated calligraphy to the rank of contemporary art. This first retrospective in France brings together 75 characteristic works from different periods of his career and allows visitors to immerse themselves in a monochrome universe full of stunningly rich and multiple forms.
In the 1950s, Yu-ichi Inoue began exploring the uncharted territories of calligraphy and created his first works composed of one single character (ichijisho). Throughout his life, he would tirelessly produce a multitude. Today, he is best known for his large ideograms drawn in styles that evolved throughout the years. Ai (love), Hana (Fleur), and Hin (Denial) were among his favorites. In the 1960s and 70s, Inoue experimented with diverse materials and techniques: newspaper collages, more or less diluted inks, frozen ink, characters deliberately popping out of the surface of the sheet. At the same time as he made ichijisho, Inoue continuously created works made of multiple characters. In the impressive Ah National School of Yokokawa (1978), he fiercely denounced the absurdity of the war by recounting the 1945 bombing of the school where he was teaching. In 1979, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Paradoxically, the years leading up to his death in 1985 were the most productive of his career, and many of his masterpieces were made during this time. Although he was weakened by his illness, he still created several kotobagaki (“Word-writing”) with graphite, Conté pencil, and charcoal. With wild energy, he calligraphed a famous children’s story by Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933), The Bears of Nametoko Mountain. In this monumental work, which is often considered his last, the text extends out over 14 meters. Up until his last days, Yu-ichi Inoue “freed calligraphy.”
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 12-8pm
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