Untitled196616 x 12 1/2 in.(40.64 x 31.75 cm) oil on canvas
Provenance Sadamasa Motonaga Estate
Private Collection, Houston
As a member of the legendary Gutai Art Association that flourished between 1954 and 1972, Sadamasa Motonaga emerged when post-atomic surrealist existentialism was at the forefront of artistic development in Japan. Yet he chose a different path. He turned his back on the destruction wrought by the war and created work that was fresh, jubilant, and playful. “Untitled” of 1966 is in his classic style, which developed concurrently with Morris Louis’ so-called ‘Veil’ paintings. It might suggest the brightly lit comb, eye and mottled plumage of a gallinaceous bird, but any such associations are probably arbitrary and unintended. Instead, it is a brilliantly successful display of Motonaga’s avant-garde take on traditional Japanese Tarashikomi — the technique that involves tilting the canvas at different angles to allow mixtures of resin and enamel to flow upon one another before the paint is fully dry.