Toshimitsu Imai - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    La Medusa Studio d'Arte Contemporanea, Rome
    Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, 1960s

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1955 Paris-based Japanese artist Toshimitsu Imai met French art critic Michel Tapie and a powerful combination of influences emerged, and Imai became the leader of what was considered Japan´s take on Art Informel. Imai abandoned representational art and his early fauve-style abstractions, instead dedicating his career as a painter to experimentation with gesture and material. Imai´s work blends both West and East in an abstract, highly gestural work that remains at the same time intrinsically spiritual.

    When we look at Pittura (Verde) we are confronted with a bright-coloured chaos, however, as we take in the deep purple and green hues of the painting, the almost symmetrical manner in which the paint splashes suggests a new meditative quality, much less accidental and more mystical. In Pittura (verde), Toshimitsu Imai uses the principles of Art Informel to both engage with the Western Post-War tradition and the Eastern calligraphic techniques in a work that becomes unique in both its spontaneity and preparation. The background, in particular, is reminiscent of the delicate colour degradations of Japanese silk screens, while the energetic splashes that take on the centre of the art work remind us of the shape of a spider web which evokes the expanding space. Imai achieves in this work an intriguing balance between the performative element of painting (predominant in Gutai and abstract expressionism); the sensuality of the material (derived from the tactile qualities of Informel) and the meditative element of Japanese philosophy and calligraphy.

Property of a Distinguished European Family Collection

Ο ◆27

Pittura (Verde)

oil on canvas
130 x 160 cm (51 1/8 x 62 7/8 in.)
Signed and dated 'Imai '60' on the lower right. Further signed, dated and inscribed 'Toshimitsu Imai, Roma, Janv. 1960' on the reverse and inscribed 'Toshimitsu Imai, 31 years old' in Kanji on the reverse.

£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £86,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm