TADAAKI KUWAYAMA: Radical Neutrality
The work of Tadaaki Kuwayama (b. 1932 Nagoya, Japan) is characterised by “radical neutrality,” as art historian Michio Hayashi describes it. Since the early 1960s, Kuwayama has adamantly broken from existing modes of artistic expression in order to create neutral art, which means, the artist removes all the characteristics from a painting to the degree where you can no longer judge the painting with aesthetic conventions. Kuwayama first eliminates all expressive elements from the painting to establish a unitary colour field. He then applies a layer of clear solvent to make the work’s surface reflective, so that it blends into the surrounding space. His most representative work from the mid-1960s comprised of four equivalent squares, each framed by aluminium strips and bordered by thin black lines. This structure has no top or bottom; hence, the work is free of composition. Since the cross-paintings come in sets of equivalent elements, their order is random and can be arranged in any way. More cross-paintings can be added to create an infinite space without beginning or end, and the totality of the works, rather than individual design, becomes important. His remarkably neutral panels challenge people, as they can no longer judge his painting as “good or bad.” In order to fully appreciate Kuwayama’s artworks, the viewers need to leave one’s own conventional ideas behind.