Bibliography 1


It can be said that whereas Occidental thought has been built up in the way one lays one brick upon another, in Japan the tendency has been to place spirituality in the space in between wooden pillars. This is true also of painting. The difference in space conception can be easily understood d one considers space as defined by perspective in Modern Occidental Art, and space as suggested by disposition in Sumie (Ink painting) and Ukiyoe.

This tendency however, seems to get inversed suddenly from the nineteenth century on. The perspective minded Occident finds interest in Ukiyoe and gets involved in endless destruction and restructuration of space, pursues avant-garde attempts in search of nothingness.

Meanwhile Japan looks admiringly to the contractive beauty of the West, and strives to reduplicate and implant it on its soil. Yamauchi's work also started from such a process of recognition of constructive Art. This gave birth to what Yamauchi himself refers to as his "Work by Addition".

Yamauchi's theme remains unchanged since his first etudes. It might be expressed as acknowledgement of his sphere of existence through color and form. But when he realized that search by accumulation could only lead him to reduplicate the Occidental drama between "subject and expression", he began his "Work by Substraction".

He endeavoured to scrape the canvas, to scrape away form and color, to scrape obstinately to the point the canvas almost gave way. This is in no way a rejection of construction, Let us rather say that at the end of construction, the artist came to understand the limits of artifice, and encountered nature in the form of canvas. And he was brought to listen with humility to its voice.

Sharp and light form or forms appear in a vague space. These can be interpreted as a dialogue between lovers or as the ideal form of family, and above all as the expression of an energy standing alone in the wide space, in harmony with Nature.

These works were all achieved works, but the sheer fact that the artist went all the way in the direction implied, made it impossible for him to remain there. The search had to continue and gradually, canvas, color and form all came to the extreme limit of extinction. This necessarily implies the extinction of the artist himself. Yamauchi's work in this period seems to run towards the extinction of all things.

In the Occidental way of thinking, Naught or Nothingness can only be the source of anguish, as it means absence of God. But it is not necessarily so in Japan. There is a Naught or "Mu" swirling of energy, and there is a "Mu" full of calm. It is Chaos itself, and the Mandala of energy. But Occidentalized Japanese are already losing its memory.

Through his work leading towards pure extinction, Yamauchi draws us into the space in between pillars and brings us to rememberance. Through the exhaustively scraped canvas, we are lead to Nothingness, to the spirit of "Mu", that is to say to the recognition of its diversity.

Yamauchi has always worked in the countryside in the vicinity of the town of Kushiro in the North of Japan. But geographic localisation does not mean intellectual backwardness. On the contrary, the space of Naught is such that when it reaches everywhere and concentrates strong energy, it becomes the center. In that sense, Yamauchi's work is undoubtedly a central work open to the world,

Here is an artistic space where, at the end of a long and hard battle, all attachment to the self has been rejected. In this new space, fresh, and yet so dense, one can constantly feel wind blowing from the 21s-century.
SHINDO Masaaki - writer

© The works of YAMAUCHI Tatsuo, Published by Gallery Time, 2007