“Kanzan” (Cold Mountain)
Inoue Yūichi Japanese
Not on view
The explosive brushwork of this oversize composition straddles the realms of calligraphy and abstract art. Kanzan (Chinese: Hanshan) was an eccentric Tang-dynasty (618– 906) Chinese monk, a poet recluse who, accompanied by his inseparable companion Jittoku (Chinese: Shide), lived a life of utter poverty and made strange utterances that belied his profound wisdom.
Growing up in postwar Japan, Yūichi (as he is generally referred to instead of by his surname, Inoue), struggled to find a personal artistic voice grounded in traditional East Asian calligraphic practice and found himself more inspired by abstract gestural art advocated by rebellious Japanese and Western artists. He became aware of abstract expressionism and action painting in the early 1950s, when he learned of works by artists such as Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock. Yūichi is known to have practiced calligraphy every morning before going to teach at a local elementary school, which he did for most of his life.