Duration : 12:00 - 20:00

Opening : May 22,2020 (Fri) -- Jul 12,2020 (Sun)

Venue : Room 108, No.3, Lane 1363, Middle Fuxing Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China

Tel : +86 (0)21 5496 1918

Web :

Artist : Jiro YOSHIHARA


At the beginning of 2020 while the epidemic of the Covid-19 keeps elasticizing, Germano Celant, the Italian art critic and leader of the Arte povera ¹, died in Milan at the age of 80 from the complications of virus-causing pneumonia on the evening of April 29. Poverty art movement was one of the last art movements in the 20th century, in which is more than a reference to the scarcity and simplicity of the artwork materials or self-deprecation of the artist’s tough life. It was an art genre that goes hand in hand with earth art, post-minimalism, and conceptual art.

At the same time of 1968, Nobuo Sekine ignited the Mono-Ha art movement (School of things) with his work ” Phase—Mother Earth” at the Suma Park of Kobe in Japan. Works of Mono-ha art movement focused on the relationship between space and the “matter”, the concept believes space and “matter” are interdependent in their nature characters and emphasizes the matter itself’s interlinking. This art movement became known as the “School of Things” with the main members of Nobuo Sekine, Lee Ufan, Katsuro Yoshida, Kishio Suga, Susumu Koshimizu, Noboru Takayama, Katsuhiko Narita, which gradually developing and emerging in the Kanto areas of Japan.

However, before Poverty art Movement and Mono-ha happened, another avant-garde art movement, GUTAI, arised in Kansai at the year of 1954, representing an important art group in Japan of Post-War and Contemporary art scene. Known as the GUTAI Art Association and led by artist Jiro YOSHIHARA (1905-1972) from Hyogo Prefecture, Ashiya City, the movement artists’ group had almost 60 members. Besides the well-known Kazuo Shiraga and Tanaka Atsuko, rest of them are still unfamiliar to people.

Born on January 1st of 1905, Jiro YOSHIHARA was the son of a wealthy family, he was a talented and “Slash” young man. In his early years before founding the GUTAI Art Association: he possessed both the titles of President of the Yoshihara Oil Mill Ltd. and avant-garde abstract artist. Circles are notable symbols in his works. He was very active in Japan art scene before World War II and supposed to be the originator both of Japanese minimalism and conceptual art. In his works, the abstraction expression, minimal style, and conceptualism were extremely influential and forward-looking to the people after World War II in Japan.

Jiro YOSHIHARA was born in an cooking oil business family, his works was influenced by surrealist artists when he studied in France of 1928, around 1930 he painted the fish and seaside landscapes as everyday subjects. However, when he showed those works to the famous Japanese painter Tsuguharu Foujita in Paris, it was pointed out that they were hardly innovative. After that, his paintings have thus changed considerably and became more geometric and abstract. However, he could only sketch due to the outbreak of World War II. After the war, he inherited the family business. While running the company, he started to paint the simple, avant-garde abstract works by using a fierce and unpredictable brushwork.

Subsequently, Jiro YOSHIHARA’s works were noticed alongside the French Informalism (Art Informel) and the American abstract expressionism (Action painting). Because of his educational background in France, the popular haute couture brands asked him to help with the stage setting design and some other errands. At that time he became internationally noticeable but in the meanwhile, he set up an art workshop in the Kansai region and began to teach.

In 1952, as the officer, Yoshihara participated in the Modern Fine Arts Symposium. Two years later, he co-founded the “GUTAI Art Association” and the starting members were 15 people, mainly the students from his workshop. This kind of natural teacher-disciple relationship was rare to find at that time. Yoshihara was a wealthy man, and he was both the artist and the patron/teacher to the artists. In addition to the opening show at Kansai Ashiya, their first group exhibition held at the Ohara Kaikan in Tokyo and it was quite spectacular at that moment. Later on, artists from GUTAI and Art Informel movements held up an international exchange exhibition together.

Yoshihara opened a gallery in his old warehouse from his own home in Nakanoshima of 1962, space was used for exhibiting GUTAI artists only. The gallery is supposed to be the first contemporary art gallery in Japan and its space was very fashionable and avant-garde. During that time Yoshihara himself kept working as an artist, he painted a large number of abstracts and avant-garde works. In 1972 Yoshihara died from an illness and then the association was dissolved. However, the pioneering characters of GUTAI art movements influenced a group of Japanese artists, it had a huge impact on Japanese artists’ creation after WW2 and left a deep mark on the development of its contemporary art field.

The exhibition at Shun Art Gallery Shanghai branch mainly displays Mr. Yoshihara’s early works in papers. Those works are not large size. However, it will give the audience insights from the cultural perspective about the artist’s creative thinking at the early stage.

Individuals and their groups begin pondering when society started to change. The motto was spiritually coined to the nowadays turbulence of mankind on some levels. Hoped the first solo exhibition of Jiro YOSHIHARA in Shanghai would provide a fresh knowledge to us after the returning to the normal from the epidemic.

-Shun, wrote at Tokyo studio
during the postponement period of the state of emergency in Japan.


1, In 1967, “Flash Art” magazine published Germaine Chelante’s “Notes for a Guerilla War”, in which he first proposed the concept of “Arte Povera” (poverty art). “Poverty art” mainly refers to the artist’s using of the scrap, daily or neglected materials as a medium of expression, with the aim of breaking away from the traditional


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