Gutai Under Feet (Basel LED), 2017

Basel 2017
Galerie Max Mayer
LED strips on hand-dyed fabric, LED transmitter, power supplies, SD cards, wood, transducers, cardboard, amplifiers, media player
Gutai Under Feet (Basel LED) captures the off-kilter relationship between painting and performance from a historical and contemporary perspective, a concept that Ei Arakawa has continued to pursue throughout his artistic practice. Each handmade LED system ‘painting’, displaying images that Arakawa had used in his previous performance in 2011, talks and even sings to reveal a comic tale of passionate collectivity and its discontents. These particular Gutai paintings are from around 1959, a year of significant transition for the avant-garde Japanese group. The rise in competitiveness between group members can be largely seen as a result of international attention afforded them via French critic Michel Tapié. Arakawa’s original songs, created with David Zuckerman and Dan Poston, juxtapose Gutai’s postwar global success with that of Art Basel, a fair that was conceived in 1969, a year before Gutai disbanded. Viewers mentally complete the rather coarse renditions of the images with the assistance of tele-prompters provided both in English and in a regional dialect particular to Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto. The singing paintings are highly anxious and extremely humorous. They are endlessly ‘performing themselves’ in the absence of a performance artist.