Lives and works in Osaka
Norio Imai was born in 1946 in Osaka and joined the Gutai Art Association as their youngest member in 1965 at the age of 19. A year prior, Imai held his first solo exhibition at Noonu Gallery in Osaka, as well as exhibiting his first work in a Gutai exhibition. Belonging to the second generation of Gutai artists, Imai is recognized for his wall-mounted paintings that encompass a sculptural dimension.
Seeking a philosophy of complete purity and simplicity, Imai created his paintings using only monochrome whites. The artist adopted a method of stretching canvas onto frames and simultaneously covering objects that were at times recognizable and other times not, resulting in sculptural looking paintings that appears ready to burst through the smooth, luminous surface of white paints. Believing white to be the ultimate color—the non-color that brings all other colors into harmony—Imai’s works held an inherent sensuality and peace different to the works of other Gutai artists.
Following the disbandment of Gutai Art Association in 1972, Imai began to experiment in photography and video while still holding true to his philosophies. His works have been exhibited globally from Japan to Australia, France and Italy, to Switzerland and the Netherlands. In 2013, Imai participated in the blockbuster show “Gutai–A Splendid Playground” at the Guggenheim in New York. The same year a monograph on the artist was published by the Axel & May Vervoordt Foundation, which has since led to a rise in retrospective exhibitions surveying Imai’s artistic career. The artist currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan.