In the past, some people believed that art should be void of color, emotion, and individual expression. They started expressing their feelings through works of art that were light and spacious in nature. This led to the founding of the Zero Group.
One of its founders was Saburo Murakami, a Japanese artist who was born in 1925 and was also a member of the Gutai Group (a radical, post-war artistic group). His works were truly exuberant! He was popularly known for throwing objects through paper or leaping through the paper himself in order to produce a unique form of artwork.
Saburo Murakami was born in Kobe. He was already interested in art at a young age. He joined a painting club when he was 18 years old and focused on oil painting. He joined the Totorri 40th Infantry Regiment in 1945. The Second World War ended which allowed him to enter Kwansei Gakuin University where he took a Philosophy Course. He graduated from it and also studied an Aesthetics Course. This was the time that he started participating in many exhibitions until up until 1994.
In 1952, he spearheaded the Zero Group, a group of artists focusing on kinetic art by using light and motion. The group was considered one of history’s viral art movements. In 1955, he joined the Gutai Art Association, which was founded by Jiro Yoshihara in Osaka. The group emphasized the relationship between body and matter in the pursuit of originality. He held many of his solo exhibitions from 1973 to 1977. Until his death in 1996, he became well-known for his conceptual paintings and performances.
Murakami Saburo, 'Passing Through' (1956) pic.twitter.com/TLSTY42Ziu
— Corey Wakeling (@CoreyWakeling) September 28, 2014
Among the art pieces that he was popular for was a performance piece called “Paper Breakthrough”, released in 1956. As a Gutai member, he explored the relationship between body, spirit, and materials through experimentation. In this piece, he broke through 42 layers of paper. He was experimenting the relationship between anger and physical action by breaking into many sheets of paper mounted on a wooden frame. It clearly expressed his free-spirited approach to art.
Other than this, he was also known for an oil painting called “Sakuhin.” This work emphasized expressed movement and action rather than flat painting. He was able to utilize unconventional techniques and styles which were common to the Gutai Group.
Murakami’s works embody a sincere attitude which showcases art and its relationship with the world. These were his ways of introducing an expression called “no-mindedness” that allows one to come into contact with undifferentiated things. This brings out an explosion of free energy.
You can learn more about his works by purchasing the book, “Murakami Saburo: Through the ’70s”, which was published in 2013. This consists of his solo exhibitions and independent works and costs 2,800 yen. It comes in both Japanese and English language, and you can purchase it on Amazon.
Murakami’s artworks are focused on the production process, the performance, and the concept, rather than the product itself. He was particularly interested in the motion of producing art rather than the outcome, which is more and more common among artists. He is definitely one artist who turned leaping and throwing objects through paper into an artistic performance, which can be appreciated and should not be lost or forgotten!