Shuji Mukai


mixed media on board
22 x 25 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches

Shuji Mukai joined Gutai in 1961 as part of the second generation of artists to take part in the group’s multi-disciplinary exhibitions and activities. Early on, his works were characterized by patterns of pictographic signs that resembled a variety of visual languages – from music notes to hieroglyphics – but ultimately referenced nothing. Though he makes “traditional” paintings, the artist also makes installation-based work, as in his Modern Jazz Café “Check” (1966) where he covered the walls, furniture, dishes, and people in a cafe with his signs. In this recent untitled work, Mukai’s symbols cover a panel and gold bar. Perhaps a playful comment on Mukai’s own interest in altering spaces by covering their surfaces, the bar is embossed with the phrase “overcoated value.” A lively and poignant commentary on information and communication, Mukai’s work seems as relevant today as it did in the 1960s. Mukai’s work has been included in numerous group shows in Japan and abroad, and his installation 2020 Symbol Rooms is currently on view at The Warehouse in Dallas.