Demythifying Japanese Women Artists: Yuki Katsura, Yayoi Kusama, Atsuko Tanaka, Yuko Nasaka, 女たちは神話をほどく:桂ゆき 草間彌生 田中敦子 名坂有子

The word “demythify” that is used in the exhibition title implies our aim to critically reconsider the use of commercialistic keywords and packaging that are attached to the three artists, Kusama, Tanaka and Nasaka, who are all highly esteemed in the current art market. By juxtaposing the three artists with Katsura, who was a pioneering and unique artist but whose works are difficult to incorporate in the art market, we will also examine the significance of her art, taking into account the social context in which Japanese women artists were struggling in the art world.

We would also like to consider the fact that Kusama’s 1950s works already had a sufficient level of quality and richness; thus, they should not simply be seen as being part of a preliminary period that led to her net paintings, which later flourished in New York City. We would also like to confirm that the primary factor behind Kusama’s success up to the present time originates in her expression that was steadily cultivated and diversified in the 1970s and 1980s. This was after she returned to Japan, a country where women artists were placed under difficult circumstances, more so than in the Caucasian-centered, androcentric American society of that period. In addition, the Gutai Art Association likely possessed an advanced sense of gender awareness, in comparison to other art movements in Japan back in the 1950s and 1960s. Thus, we will explore how Tanaka and Nasaka’s talent as Gutai artists blossomed within that circumstance.

There are still many talented Japanese women artists who should be recognized in the art market but who have not yet been unearthed. We hope that this exhibition can contribute to further highlighting many more Japanese women artists who were or who have been active from before as well as after the war.

by Kotaro Nukaga from  Nukaga Gallery