Atsuko Tanaka was one of the foremost members of Gutai, a group which focussed on experimental art forms, their manifesto proclaiming a new relationship between the materials and the human spirit. Within this primarily male-orientated group, Tanaka was particularly unconventional and stood out from the other Gutai members, as indeed she did from other international avant-garde artists of her time. This was due not only to her radical and metaphorical expression, but also the relationship between the body of work created especially between 1953 and 1957, and her way of thinking.
In celebration of the exhibition, Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting, the Japan Foundation has invited Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT) and exhibition curatorial team member Yuko Hasegawa, to discuss Japanese female artists and creatives from the 1950s to the present day, in the context of conceptualism. Going beyond Atsuko Tanaka, artists featured in her talk will also include Hideko Fukushima, a member of Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) in the 1950s, Yoko Ono and Yayoi Kusama, both of whom are internationally recognised artists. Hasegawa will examine how the psychological deconstruction of images of women, both within social convention and common roles, function in the work of Tabaimo and Miwa Yanagi. She will also explore the achievements of Kazuyo Sejima and Rei Kawakubo, some of Japan's most influential creative minds.
By tracing conceptualism in Japan, and the significance of these various artists within a post-war framework, Hasegawa will explore the unique politics of Japanese female artists who were, and indeed are, conscious about the relationship between their work and body.
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