The Single Character Action Calligraphy of Yuichi Inoue


Yuichi Inoue, who goes simply by Yu-Ichi, is a Japanese calligraphy artist who passed away in 1985 at the age 69. His experimental “one character writings,” as well as his expressive, action-based style of painting, won him considerable acclaim both domestically and abroad, with some even referring to him as the Jackson Pollock of Japan.

Now the avant-garde calligrapher is the subject of a large scale show at Tomio Koyama Gallery in Japan, which will consist of a solo exhibition of his work at their main gallery in Tokyo, as well as a satellite show that will run, at times, simultaneously at the new Hikarie building in Shibuya.

yu-ichi_nr_019301_700tori (bird), 1978, ink on paper, 121 x 183 cm, Catalogue Raisonné Vol. III, # 78019

yu-ichi_nr_66014_700yama (mountian), 1966, ink on paper, 146 x 215 cm, Catalogue Raisonné Vol. I, # 66014

yu-ichi_nr_66088_700yume (dream), 1966, ink on paper, 125 x 198 cm, Catalogue Raisonné Vol. I, # 66088

yu-ichi_nr_73004_700hin (poverty), 1973.1.13, ink on paper, 98 x 121,5 cm, Catalogue Raisonné Vol. II, #73004

yu-ichi_nr_018164_700kaze (wind), 1968, ink on paper, 145 x 218 cm, Catalogue Raisonné Vol. I, # 68009

yu-ichi_nr_019298_700jô (top), 1984, ink on paper, 137 x 240 cm, Catalogue Raisonné Vol. III, # 84007

Yu-Ichi was perhaps his own biggest critic, maintaining a practice of destroying everything he felt was inferior work. As a result, relatively few works currently exist. “His focus is not on the aesthetics of the characters, but rather on the unfettered development of his inner power as directly expressed by the writing. He overcomes traditional calligraphy in favor of radical expressiveness,” says the Japan Art Gallery in Frankfurt, who owns exclusive rights to the sale of Yu-Ichi’s work in Europe. He sounds (and looks) like a total badass to me.


left: 1984 (photo: Itô Tokio) | right: 1955 (photo: Asahi Shinbun)

yu-ichi_bio_atl_1955_500pxInoue Yûichi, 1955 (photo: Asahi Shinbun)



  1. Gorgeous. I could look at these all day.

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