Lot  652 Ravenel Autumn Auction 2022 Taipei

Ravenel Autumn Auction 2022 Taipei


INOUE Yuichi (Japanese, 1916 - 1985)


Ink on Japanese paper, framed

130 x 179.5 cm


TWD 1,700,000-2,800,000

HKD 422,000-695,000

USD 53,800-88,600

CNY 381,000-628,000

Sold Price

TWD 2,880,000

HKD 732,824

USD 94,148

CNY 662,069


ILLUSTRATED Yu-Ichi: Catalogue Raisonné of the Works 1949-1985, Vol. 1 1949-1969, UNAC Tokyo, Tokyo, 1998, p. 194, cat. no. 61025



Inoue Yuichi (1916-1985) was born in Tokyo, Japan to an impoverished family. Hence he forwent his wish to become an artist at an early age. He chose to study at the National University of Tokyo and became a teacher. With an undying pursuit of art, he studied Western art after work. In 1941, under the recommendation of a friend, he met and followed Sōkyū Ueda, a prominent calligrapher of the times. After the aerial attack of Tokyo in 1945, the people of Japan lived under constant fear of life and death in the tumultuous times within the country. Despite the struggle of life and poverty, Inoue found peacefulness and meaning of life through calligraphy practices. Since then, he was determined to follow the path of calligraphy.

Under the influence of western abstraction and ideology, Inoue chose to refine calligraphy art from all schools of beliefs, but to follow the exploration of his own "self." Since then, Inoue was regarded as an advocate of modern Japanese art in the international art scene. His works were invited to numerous exhibitions including, 50 ans d'art moderne, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium in 1958, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan in 2016 and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA in 2018. His calligraphy works were considered as a pioneer of modern oriental calligraphy. His works were kept in national collections in Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne, Germany, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan and The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, to name but a few.

Inoue's father Inoue Eiji was a devoted buddhist of Nichiren-shū. He visited Hokekyo-ji Temple in the hopes of having a son. Not long after, Inoue Yuichi was born. Following his father's passing and the turbulent times in 1949, along with family conflicts, Inoue underwent a heavy turmoil. He sketched an image of his father with an inscription from the Lotus Sutra in his remembrance. Butsu (Buddha) in itself is a revelation from the Lotus Sutra with an implication of a life-time meditation, which synchronizes with calligraphy. A vibrant calligraphy of Butsu reflects the artist's determination in the pursuit of Buddhist enlightenment. Throughout the career of Inoue, the strong, rebellious and independent character of Inoue could be traced back to the pursuit promoted by the Lotus Sutra and the Hokekyo-ji Temple. Such spirit is reflected through the calligraphy Butsu by Inoue. The work might as well be a summary of his pursuit of art and calligraphy. In 1958, Inoue exhibited a Butsu calligraphy at the 50 ans d'art moderne, Belgium, showing his faith as a post-war artist against the influence of Western art.

This work was completed in 1961 written with a special chilled ink invented in the 1960s. The strokes resemble that of Chinese calligraphy with a natural split of ink and water, while creating natural crevices between the strokes, thereby enhancing the visual impact. Chilled ink enriches the visual perspectives as a unique invention of Inoue. Swift strokes of Butsu ressemble the cursive script of Yan Zhen-qin and of Tang dynasty. Through the intersecting lines, one can observe the movement and the spirit of the artist with ink and brush on paper. This is a play of balance in oriental philosophy, as the word appears both sturdy and light in its form. Such a juxtaposition summarises the struggles of the artist in his post-war life through calligraphy. Each stroke carries its purpose in its form. Butsu forms a core ideology of the artist's art, allowing his art a foothold in the modern art scene. Similar works of Butsu are rare and are kept in national institutions such as The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, USA and the M+ museum in Hong Kong. This shows the pivotal importance of the subject in the artist's portfolio. In recent years, Inoue Yuichi's calligraphy has been under the limelight of the post-war art market. Yume fetched HK$1,500,000 at Sotheby's Hong Kong in 2017, and NT$ 5,280,000 at Ravenel, Taiwan. This work Butsu represents both the spiritual background of the artist and the uniqueness of the art itself. With a limited quantity in private hands, this work is one of the sought-after works released in the market, as it captures the crux of Inoue's religion and practice, as a form of meditation at the glorious stage of his artistic career.

Related Info

Refined Brushwork:Ink Paintings & Works of Art

Ravenel Autumn Auction 2022 Taipei

Saturday, December 3, 2022, 1:00pm