February 3 – February 16, 2021
Yayanagi Go: Online Exhibition
The Tolman Collection
2-2-18 Shiba Daimon, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0012 Japan
Unlocking the imagery.
Looking at the brilliant colors and rich imagery in the prints of Yayanagi Go (or Tsuyoshi, as he sometimes calls himself), one might find it hard to believe that the artist comes from Japan, where restraint is allegedly a key word. Furthermore, the artist comes from cold Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, considered the “boonies” by sophisticates from the capital. Yayanagi even studied pharma- cology and graduated from agricultural college. So where do all these hot- colored, visually exciting prints come from?
Yayanagi has always loved art, but his travels in Central and South America and Africa from 1957 to 1959 obviously made a great impact. The intense tropical colors, the exotic flora and fauna, the voluptuous bodies – all made a lasting impression on the boy from the far north. Later he lived with his family in Paris for three years, studying at Atelier 17. There he achieved his excellence of technique and acquired the ability to put down on paper all those vivid concepts that were whirling around in his adventurous mind.
Once we hold the key to Yayanagi’s past, we can understand what he is conveying in his work The Island That Became a Bird. There are his trademark black-and-white stripes relieving the intensities of color, his sensuous female forms, an unusual butterfly, the beautifully shaded blue sea, and – could it be? – yes, there are the shapes of Africa and South America, both clearly delineated and set off by two exotic birds. Very simple if you know the artist’s work.
Japanese have a reputation for being conformists, but one look at a Yayanagi work makes one reconsider this idea. His international experiences have obviously added a great deal to his original open and warm Hokkaido personality and are the key to figuring out what this artist is hoping to communicate.
Yayanagi believes art should permeate life, and at the moment his colorful murals are in great demand with schools, corporations, and museums. In recent years he has designed fabric for clothing and furniture, and even in a crowd one can usually spot him, goateed and wearing his elegant tinted glasses and a Yayanagi shirt or cravat. His entire world is filled with color, excitement, and humor.
I hope that my clients realize that these Yayanagi prints that I am finally able to share with those eager to build a collection including works that are no longer available elsewhere. We have maintained these pieces in my archives for as long as 50 years. In preparing these programs I am always taken back by the fine condition in which we are able to offer them. It is due to our constant awareness of condition that permits us to show you prints that are in the such good condition that you might think they were just made yesterday. I really hope those who are gathering prints that they might have almost given up in finding will be surprised that a print of their dreams still exists.
Starting as a collector, while being a diplomat so long ago and then having been in business for such a long time just adds to the pleasure of doing business. I hope that you will find something that you have long been looking for and will be able to add something special to your collection.
-Norman H. Tolman