Toshimitsu Imai was a Japanese artist born in Kyoto in 1928. After traditional studies, Imai entered the Tokyo Academy of Fine Arts in 1948. In 1952, he went to Paris and enrolled at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, as well as at the Sorbonne, where he studied history and medieval philosophy. Between 1950 and 1954, he often exhibited in Paris. His painting, hitherto in a rather Fauvist style, with large blocks of warm colours, gradually shifted towards the abstract. Imai soon joined the Art Informel movement: the first of his compatriots to do so. On many occasions his compositions become a medium for figurative motifs, and above all texts or poems. What we perhaps remember most about him were his monumental compositions. Imai liked to rely on impasto, incorporating ink lines into it for more fluidity, leading to a chaotic effect that is often characteristic of his style. This painter was highly successful during his lifetime, enabling him to exhibit alongside leading abstract painters like Georges Mathieu and Sam Francis. In fact, he was so successful that he exhibited at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1953, and then at the Venice Biennale seven years later. In 1956, Toshimistu Imai organised an exhibition in his native country alongside his artist friends, Georges Mathieu and Sam Francis. By doing so, he played a key role in the introduction of European abstract art to Japan. From the 1970s onwards, the Fauve style for which the artist was known gave way to inventive work incorporating Japanese characters and cultural elements within the paintings themselves. At the end of his career, he focused more on representing the Sino-Japanese war and the Second World War. The artist died in 2002 following a long illness.
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Are you the owner of archive material or additional material about Asian painters, or would you like one of your works assessed ? Contact us