The electricity was still running through me when I returned to my real life after a day alone at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) last spring. (See here for more on the art and my reaction to it.)
After taking in the “Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void 1949-1962” exhibit, I knew I had to bring a little Gutai home.
The postwar Gutai movement was a collective of about 59 Japanese artists who created avant-garde art from 1959 to 1972. The movement was about pushing the boundaries of creative freedom through painting, performance, interactive art and experimentalism. A few weeks after my solo visit, I took Brian and the boys with me to view the exhibit. Predictably, they loved it.
Brian, whose father fought in WWII, including the D-Day invasion, was moved by the global artistic response to the events that so influenced his father and, thereby, his own upbringing. The boys were entranced with the seemingly reckless destruction of the things which, in their own lives, they’re not allowed to even touch. (I can hear myself saying, “We don’t touch art, boys,” over and over again.) But blowtorches? Shooting guns at balloons filled with paint so that the paint drips down the canvas like blood? Knives slashing at a canvas? Guys swinging from ropes as they paint with their feet? In little boy world, this is as awesome as art gets.
In one of the galleries, the MCA displayed a film of some of these Japanese Gutai artists at work. One glimpse of an artist painting with his feet, and I knew what I had to do.