Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2015 Autumn Auctions
20th Century and Contemporary Chinese Art

YUICHI INOUE (1916-1985)

Ink on paper

126.8 x 222.6 cm.49 7/8 x 87 5/8 in.

Dated and Stamped with artist’s seal on lower right

LITERATURE UNAC Tokyo,Tokyo,YU-ICHI:catalogue raisonné of the works 1949 - 1985,1996-1998,p.403 & p.526

China Remin Univeristy Publishing,Beijing,China,Calligrapy is the Art of Everyone,2012,p.214

Xi’an Museum of Art Publishing,Xi’an,China,The Making of Yuichi Inoue,2015

EXHIBITED Beijing,China,Imperial City Art Museum,The Art of Yuichi Inoue,2010

Ningbo,China,Ningbo Musuem of Art,Begin with Qingping,Not Limited to Yuichi Inoue,August 2013.

Xi’an,China,Xi’an Musuem of Art,The Making of Yuichi Inoue,2015.

Yuichi Inoue 1916 - 1985

“I think Kanji is not constant body but contains divine language. When Can Jie created words,the heaven and ghost cried. Words are spiritual objects that can surprise the universe and shock the ghosts.”

—Yuichi Inoue

The concepts of modernism entered Japan in the 19th century and quickly prospered in political,cultural and technological aspects. People imitate the ancient west but not the art. Under the nationalism propaganda,the Japanese calligraphy was dull and silent. The spirit of free casting of arts was not awakened by modernism but transformed the previously agile and mystic Oriental temperament into stiff and dull text symbols. Where shall the modernism and artistry of calligraphy sail to?

After World War II,the common suppression forced people with the same interests to search for hope away from the war; while the war brought both destruction and opportunity for new birth. Yuichi Inoue and Morita Shiryu got together in Kyoto in 1952,who decided to re-grant the Japanese calligraphy with traditional appeals in stylish art as well as injecting the soul into calligraphy. Yuichi Inoue critically absorbed western arts and made various attempts. Expressionism allowed him to realize the unification that he could have achieved physically and mentally through painting and he applied such techniques to calligraphy,employing the most primitive behaviors to play the intuitive rhythm in life. The consistency in his calligraphy and modern art language drove him into the peer of international contemporary masters.

Yuichi Inoue was not the last person of traditional Chinese calligraphy nor the pioneer in contemporary Japanese calligraphy,but he was without a doubt the most important person of the two schools. Yuichi Inoue did not instruct any student or sell his works; who thoroughly cut off his boundary with the art society. Yuichi Inoue was obviously a stubborn person and he seemed to say no to everything,no to unclear things,no to things requiring imagination,and no to things happened long ago or not recalled. He has been living in poverty for 37 years just to perceive pure and clear solitude. We could say that Yuichi Inoue was a saint in modern calligraphy. As he stated:“We all experience pains in life and must write it down. Writing is the only career I want to do. To write freely is my understanding to live and alive.”

For Yuichi Inoue,what is the real implication of free writing? It is power to return to zero and merely,which is opposition towards tradition. “The real meaning comes from how we hope to write and write our own will.” Writing implies freedom and courage. As an artist,he highly valued his emotion and the things surging from within. The power to maneuver and oppose maneuvering has always been the giant strength to write with tension. These powers are produced from inside and overspill from Yuichi Inoue’s works; it is the compassionate questioning and detachment from the world. We can see such power accumulating in his works.

It is possible to hide the details according to traditional calligraphy. However Yuichi Inoue wanted to express all his emotions directly,which were sudden and unpredictable. Yuichi Inoue wished to separate himself from the world,creating a lively and breathing writing method. Such writing will provide a motivating power from the perspective of life,a vitality and universal perspective. His concept on the universe is filled with worship for art,which surpasses all surficial things,surpassing the forms of writing and text. He could even write sounds,developing a pure independent art from writing,text and language.

Yuichi Inoue was fortunate to have met Masaomi Unagami after spending some tens of years in writing. They jointly shared their views on life in art. In 1985,Yuichi Inoue passed away and his last words were “the works belong to me and Masaomi Unagami,do not bother him.” Masaomi Unagami spent all his money and a lifetime to finally publish the “Yuichi Inoue Collection,” 15 years after Yuichi Inoue passed away.”

This pure and sincere artist put his life into extremity while accomplishing the boundary and possibility of writing. His pure behavior could not fit in with the conservatives of calligraphy circle but he never changed his stance on art. He acted like a proud and independent warrior who stood on top of mountain,screaming freely using his own approach.

Modernism in East Asia

The Second World War is an important divide in the progress of modern Asia,and East Asia in particular. It prompted profound transformation in the political,economic and cultural milieu of relatively independent and free societies such as Taiwan,Japan and South Korea. It also led to dramatic changes in the environment as well as people’s way of thinking. They came to realize that the extreme of a highly progressive civilization would have all things reset. Artists with a high sensitivity began to contemplate the value of existence and meaning of life. They sought inspiration from philosophy and psychology,bringing about a wave of Modernism. Distinct from traditional art which was founded on realism and technicality,Modernist Art is symbolic,expressive and abstract. Schools of Modernism would assert their anti-conventional nature,deny and reject academic,realist traditions that had been dominant the mid-19th century.

In recent years,a number of prominent,museum-caliber exhibitions turned their focus to the avant-garde art movement in post-war East Asia. They include:Marking Infinity,a retrospective exhibition in 2011 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,New York of Lee Ufan,an iconofJapanese Mono-ha(literally “School of Things”)and the Korean tansaekhwa(monochrome painting)school; Tokyo 1955-1970:A New Avant-Garde in 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art,New York; and Gutai:Splendid Playground in 2013 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Exhibitions organized by these major international art institutions have redirected the public’s attention to an era of magnificent influence.

Price estimate:
HKD:200,000 - 300,000
USD:25,800 - 38,700

Auction Result:
HKD : 590,000



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