Yasuo Sumi: My art from Gutai up to the present

In 1954 I ended a three years treatment for tuberculosis. I started working as a professor at Osaka school again, feeling uncomfortable because of the long absence.
There, Shozo Shimamoto spoke to me. He taught Arts while I was a professor of sociology.
Knowing that Shimamoto was drawing paintings, I asked him what kind of paintings they were. Shimamoto gave me a picture of one of his works ( the first prize at the Modern Art Exhibition) that seemed to me a series of irregular lines on a white background, lines that meeting each other created many Xs. Shimamoto stated that his works represented the future of the painting. Already interested in the art, I longed for drawing while listening to hiswords. I revealed Shimamoto my desire letting him understand I did not know any technique.
He encouraged me to have a go. I started drawing every day spurred by his words. While receiving his praises, I got more and more active.
One day, I spilled a bottle of ink on the desk and the ink spreaded on the sheets that were there. On the desk the abacus drew my attention at first. I took the abacus and ran it over the stain of ink. The result was a group of vigorous lines that, in my opinion, a man could not draw with his own strength. Shimamoto as impressed and suggested me to try the oil paintings. He even proposed me to exhibit this kind of work in the exhibition of Ashiya.
Since I had been drawing for a month and a half his proposal seemed to me quite unrealistic.
I accepted the same as he offered to accompany me. I passed the selections and won the first prize.
Jiro Yoshihara was among the members of the jury. Shimamoto introduced me to Yoshihara.
He appreciated my works with the abacus and encouraged me to go on. I was so happy because I did not know how wonderful was the world of the art. I swore myself to keep on drawing with the abacus for all my life. In that year Shimamoto and Yoshihara founded the artistic association named Gutai. I used bangasa ( a Japanese Umbrella ), an hand made vibrator and a large comb. The world of the art seemed to me a world full of discoveries.
Since then, I found extraordinary the despair (the liberation of the mind), the lack of seriousness (thinking ahead), and the irresponsibility (the return to being man). Indeed, the act of creation, while drawing, using new tools is much more effective than using your own mind where discoveries are limited.
This way of thinking is still valid for me. While drawing, my mind is completely free and is only full of joy. The colour splashes here and there in a condition that is commonly considered disorder, but, on the contrary, for me is the direct product of the natural strength.
My works, bearing the marks of the abacus, the cuts of the Japanese sandals, the damages caused by the strokes of the umbrella on the the paper or on canvas, witness my natural strength.
Yasuo Sumi
May 2009