Yukio Imamura

Born in 1935 in Ise, Japan, lives and works in France and Japan

From Zenon to Mumuyes Paris, February 1995

The gesture is a blaze,and melts in action. The line is traced. Strength of the entire body. Frozen movement. Zenon Flight.

After Zenon Flight came macrocosms on canvas, or the focus-on-phenomenon series Quarks – named after the elementary particles that make up the atom – from the infinitely large to the infinitely small.

Imamura recently developed a passion for African art and turned his attention to sculp- tures made by the Mumuyes, a people of northern Nigeria. He now paints for the Mumuyes. Fascinated by their statues, he places them in front of his canvases and incorporates them into his new pictorial imagination.

In his recent canvases, fluid as the linseed oil he still uses, Imamura visualizes the dance of existence in the universe, the African statue acting as a prism which both inspires and catalyzes a creative force that unites spirit and matter.

Lélia Mordoch

Red Peppers – Paris, September 2004

When they change their style, artists are afraid that their public will abandon them; that nobody will understand why they suddenly need to explore another path. Few actors are capable of moving from tragedy to comedy so casually. Yet many desperately yearn to play another role. Imagine Coluche playing Hamlet. An abstract painter who wants to go back to drawing is like Romain Gary deciding to use the pseudonym Emile Ajar. In painting, all abstract artists have explored figurative art at some point but they seldom revert to it like Jean Hélion.

Imamura told me that he had changed completely. Acrylic and ink replaced oil paint on canvas and drawing burst forth where forms

used to flow.The smell of turpentine disappeared from the studio. In spite of everything, I was therefore a little afraid of what I was going to find,while Imamura wondered if I was going to like his new paintings. One of the only Japanese words I know is subarashi – superb, marvellous – but the stress must be right otherwise it doesn’t mean anything. I am a gallery owner, he’s a painter.

He watches me as I look at a picture, his picture. I am a gallery owner who has faith in her ar tists; even if sometimes they do not know where they are going, they get there.

Ever since I met him, I’ve liked Imamura’s painting. I liked his Zenon Flight, his Quark ships, his abstract visions of space, which are simply an expression of his freedom, and his forays into African colors. I can only be delighted by these paintings, that all tell a stor y and whose titles, which are in Japanese phonetics so that foreigners can understand what they sound like, add exoticism to oneirism.

I like Imamura’s wildly imaginative drawings; I like the fact that this accomplished artist takes as much pleasure as a four-year-old in drawing his fantasies with such childlike spontaneity.

The storm cloud escapes from the green net that is chasing it while the apple-men work hap- pily in the ponds of the pleasure garden.They are picking red peppers so as to stimulate desire.

These are the fruits that the magician sacrifices to his art so that the tundra will thaw. But in a time of turmoil, truth is hard to see and the aircraft fall onto the breakfast table.Why isn’t the rose red? Why do flowers wilt? In the house with overlapping roofs, a man has fallen. Electrons, vindictive ghosts, attack an abandoned tank. It’s the insulators’ victory cry.Where should one go to cross over to the other side?

Delirium by moonlight, the sun swelters, the sun shines, it’s the end of the journey, and the flood inundates the pleasure garden at midday while the inhabitants of the green leaves discover the joy that apples bring.

Lélia Mordoch