Propagation AA, 1970

Included in the exhibition: Echoes of Laocoön

“A truly singular period in the artist’s career, the early 1970s timeframe … highlights Matsutani’s committed exploration of the flattening of shapes, through a frank use of strong colours.”

– Hauser & Wirth

Takesada Matsutani was part of the second wave of Japan’s experimental Gutai group until it disbanded in 1972. Having initially joined the group in 1963, his early work was inspired by long stints in hospital due to tuberculosis, and more directly by seeing microscope slides of blood that a friend in medical school showed him. Matsutani tried to recreate the look of cells using polyvinyl acetate glue – resulting in strange, flesh-like forms and textures often in the forms of balloons or large drips.

Takesada Matsutani, Propagation AA, 1970, silkscreen at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia


Propagation AA,1970
signed, titled, dated and numbered
silkscreen ink on paper
image: 63 by 49 cm.   sheet: 72 by 57 cm.
Artist proof aside from the edition of 40.

Nishinomiya City, Otani Memorial Art Museum, Takesada Matsutani. Currents, 2015 (edition no. unknown)

Private Collection, United States

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After winning a grant from the French government in 1966, Matsutani moved to Paris where he began working at the famous print-making studio of Stanley William Hayter, Atelier 17 (which had produced prints for artists such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso). Unable to work on his vinyl pieces due to a lack of space, he focussed on working on silkscreens instead. Matsutani’s style changed radically and shifted from the messy look of his earlier glue pieces to a hard-edge minimalism inspired by Ellsworth Kelly – yet as visible in Propagation AA, the abstract shapes still reference the drips in his earlier work. These works were met with acclaim, and in 1972 he was invited to exhibit in the print-making section of the Venice Biennale, followed by numerous prints exhibitions in the United States throughout the 1970s.

Takesada Matsutani, Propagation AA, 1970, silkscreen at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia

Installation view at the Otani Memorial Art Museum with Propagation AA, 1970 on the left

The Gutai artists’ unorthodox approach to art-making has vastly expanded the material possibilities for artists beyond the traditional categories of painting and sculpture. They were particularly radical with the introduction of performative elements to their practice, similar to the like-minded French artist Yves Klein.

Takesada Matsutani was born in Japan and has lived in Paris since 1966. His work was included in the Venice Biennale in 2017, and in the critically acclaimed exhibition Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2013. The artist’s work is found in the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi, the Long Museum in Shanghai, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art, amongst others.

Selected solo exhibitions
2020 Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong
2019 Centre Pompidou, Paris
2018 Japan House, Sao Paolo
2013 Hauser & Wirth, London
2002 Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns
2000 Ōtani Memorial Art Museum, Nishinomiya
1986 Contemporary Art Center, Honolulu
1983 Contemporary Art Center, Osaka
1980 Gallery S-65, Aalst
1976 Gallery Watari, Tokyo
1970 Galerie
Lahumière, Paris
1969 Galerie Ariadne, Vienna
1963 Gutai Pinacotheca, Osaka

Selected group exhibitions
2017 La Biennale, Venice
2015 Centre Pompidou, Paris
2013 Guggenheim Museum, New York
2013 San Francisco Art Institute
2012 National Arts Center, Tokyo
2010 National Museum of Art, Osaka
1999 Jeu de Paume, Paris
1977 San Francisco  Museum of Modern Art
1975 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
1972 Brooklyn Museum, New York
1968 Gutai Pinacotheca, Osaka
1966 Galerie OREZ, The Hague

Work in collections
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris
Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art 
Victoria & Albert Museum, London 
Dallas Museum of Art
Minneapolis Institute of Art 
Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi
Long Museum, Shanghai

View full list of exhibition and collections