SAITO Yoshishige 1904–2001


Yoshishige Saitō (斎藤義重, Saitō Yoshishige, also Saitō Gijū or Saito Ghiju, May 4, 1904, in Hirosaki – June 13, 2001, in Yokohama) was a Japanese visual artist and art educator.
Saitō was a seminal figure in Japanese art of the 20th century and a crucial link between the prewar avant-garde and postwar abstract art in Japan. From early on, he was exposed to Post-Impressionism and the avant-garde movements, including Russian constructivism and European Dada, as well as Western literature and Marxism. In the 1930s, he became active in the avant-garde art circles, while pursuing abstraction in paintings and wood reliefs, most notably the relief series of Kara kara and Toro Wood. All of his prewar works and related materials were lost to an air-raid fire in 1945, some of them were reconstructed in the 1970s.
In the immediate postwar years, Saitō’s return to art was slow, but by 1957, he established himself again in the art world as a prominent abstract artist. His painting imbued with a great sense of formalism was first followed by his “drill paintings” during the Informel period and then by the return to wood reliefs, which would later lead to large-scale “spatial constructions” made of painted plywood in the 1980s. In these works in wood, he critically engaged with the issues of painting, while exploring the potential of mundane plywood to construct spaces.
As a professor at the Tama Art University and the Tokyo School of Art, Saitō inspired a great number of art students, especially the future artists of the Mono-ha movement.
< from Wikipedia>

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