The Gutai Art Association was founded by Jiro Yoshihara in the Osaka area of Japan in the mid-1950s. Through Yoshihara’s encouragement, this group of about 20 artists produced new and exciting works that broke with their cultural past in order to tread new ground in the space of what art could be in contemporary society. In 1956, Yoshihara wrote The Gutai Manifesto, where he states:
Our work is the result of investigating the possibilities of calling the material to life. We shall hope that there is always a fresh spirit in our Gutai exhibitions and that the discovery of new life will call forth a tremendous scream in the material itself.
Norio Imai joined the Gutai Art Association in 1965, with the movement already producing works and exhibitions for a number of years. This younger artist became known early on in the group for his monochromatic works that explored notions of sculptural space within the realm of painting, seen here in Work S-2. Typical of these pieces, an organic swell pushes out from the canvas with a small circular void at the peak, seemingly open to an infinite space behind the work. Interestingly, in the 1970s and 1980s, Imai began to create video work, incorporating photos and performance. Imai exhibited in a number of the early Gutai exhibitions in Japan and around the world, as well as being included in numerous solo and group exhibitions up to the present.