Whitestone Gallery Singapore is pleased to announce “Harmony in Chaos: A Peek Into The Mind of Yasuo Sumi”, the very first solo exhibition by the late pioneering Japanese artist to be held in Singapore. From works as early as the 1950s, this exhibition will showcase the various stages and events in Sumi’s career – from his participation in the Gutai Art Association to the discovery of a painting technique using an abacus and the subsequent developments that took his art activities around the world. It becomes evident that Sumi embodied a distinctly free-spirited outlook on life, a quality that resonates profoundly in his canvases. At a time when Japan’s way of thinking saw salvation in hard work and goal-oriented pursuits, and applied that thinking to the field of art, Sumi diverged from convention, pioneering an artistic stance that defied conventional norms. His motto ‘yakekuso (desperation), fumajime (absence of seriousness), charanporan (irresponsibility)’, epitomised his bold departure from established paradigms, shaping his avant-garde artistry for over 50 years.

“Art has the power to overturn concepts. Art that doesn’t upset anything is meaningless.”

by Yasuo Sumi

Untitled SY-82, Oil on canvas, 2014

Born in Osaka in 1925, Sumi was a member of the Gutai Art Association and later on joined the Artist Union group (then called AU group = Art Unidentified), represented by Shozo Shimamoto. Sumi is known for using unconventional tools such as the soroban (Japanese abacus) and a paper bangasa (traditional umbrella). Other times, he would stick cloth on top of a mosquito net and paint with a vibrating mechanism.

Yasuo Sumi at work, published in the October 7, 1962 edition of the Sunday Mainichi. The article describes Sumi as a junior high school teacher who is also a freethinking painter who uses implements of various tools in his art.

Sumi’s works has been showcased in exhibitions across the world, including the Itami City Museum of Art “Enchanting Mess: Sumi Yasuo in the 1950s” (2015); the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013); Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano (2010); Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1999); and the 15th Venice Biennale, as part of the “Passage to the East” group show (1993).

Untitled SY-162, Oil on canvas, undated

Work SY-32, Wire mesh and enamel on cloth, 1950

Notably, his masterpieces have found a home in renowned museums and institutional collections such as The National Museum of Art in Osaka, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, The Miyagi Museum of Art, Ashiya City Museum of Art & History and The Rachofsky House in Dallas, USA.


39 Keppel Road, #05-03/06 Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore 089065
+65 6223 3090
+65 6223 3657
Opening Hours: 11:00 - 19:00
Monday, Public Holiday
More Info

Opening Reception

13 April 2024, 3:00pm