Feb. 25, 2022


Mandala (dkyll 'khor) is a highly symmetrical diagram with a concentric center. It consists of layered circles (‘khor), followed by rectangles (dkyll) in most cases. According to tradition, the concentric shape refers to both nirvana, as well as the circle of life and the world. The central element of  mandala represents a deity or deities, and its concentric system oscillates around a fixed point. 


This is an indefeasible message and meaning of every central structure. In Western culture, however, this pattern is not very frequent – our life is organized primarily in line with the Cartesian coordinate system. Perhaps that is why we are fascinated by works of art in which concentricity is a universal symbol of perfection.

In his works, Tadasuke Kuwayama, known under the pseudonym Tadasky, combined the tradition of the Far East with Western art and its trends in the 1960s. This remarkably contrasting combination made him one of the most important creators of op-art. The artist made use of traditional Japanese education, which he obtained in his family home, in a very innovative way. In his early years, the artist's father made him familiar with the miysdaiku art, the elaborate craft of constructing Japanese temples. Shortly afterwards, during his engineering studies, he learned about the achievements of Western art, in particular the legacy of Bauhaus and Josef Albers, which had a lasting impact on the artist. Bauhaus' integral approach to art, understood as the combination of  architecture, painting, and design, was close to Tadasky, who admired the prowess and skills of Japanese craftsmen from an early age. Concepts such as symmetry, purity, or simplicity are visible in almost every work by Tadasky. As the artist admitted in one of the interviews with Julie Karabenick, 

"When I look at my paintings, I feel like I'm entering a traditional shinto temple. It's because both of these structures are simple and symmetrical, they make a powerful impression. I am not a religious person, but some people refer to it as a spiritual experience" 

(Tadasky w rozmowie z Julie Karabenick, 2013,
[cyt. za:] http:// japanesescreens.com/catalogue/modernpost-war/7304/?wpp_ export=pdf, [tłum.] Agata Matusielańska).

Tadasky w swojej pracowni, fot. z archiwum artysty

Since the 1960s, Tadasky has been developing his own, individual artistic language within the emerging Op Art movement. His first solo exhibition was held at the Kootz Gallery in New York City in 1965. That same year his work was included in the Museum of Modern Art's groundbreaking exhibition - “The Responsive Eye". The museum acquired two of his paintings for their permanent collection, which made his career develop at an astonishingly fast pace. After the Kinetic and Optic Art Today exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Tadasky's works have become one of the most desirable works of art, found in numerous prestigious private and public collections. Nowadays, his concentric circles vibrating with colorful lines, can be found in, among others, the Baltimore Museum in Florida, the Boca Raton Museum of Art, the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami, the Columbus Museum of Art in Massachusetts, the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, the University of Virginia Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Buenos Aires, and in numerous galleries in Japan.

Praca Tadasuke Kuwayamy na wystawie The New Japanese Painting and Sculpture w 1966 w MOMA

Works, such as the one presented in the B-181 (Red, Green, Yellow and Blue) catalog, were created with the use of tools constructed by the painter, which allowed him to freely shape his artistic visions. The artist designed a rotary table for his centric compositions. When creating paintings, he sat on a plank above the canvases and applied the paint with the use of precise traditional Japanese brushes. If you look closely at the presented work, you can see that the lines are not random. Tadasky's canvases are covered with accurately calculated and carefully painted thin, pulsating, vibrating, and colorful circles. The work in question comes from a series that is characterized by a simplified composition. The contours are of similar thickness and have repetitive color patterns, with the author using only primary colors. Their uniformity and identical thickness cause a spin effect, and the saturation of colors constrains the decryption of the work's orientation. As the artist himself wrote about the importance of color in his works, 

"Color fascinates me. It is my tool. It allows me to build depth. I work on a limited space – I mean the surface of the canvas. However, I can create the impression of depth so that you can delve into the painting. In most of my works, I use pure colors. You can obtain your own colors not by mixing the shades, but by juxtaposing them. This makes them interact. Infinite color combinations are possible – everything changes when you change one color".

Nalepka wystawowa z D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.