Sekine Yoshio (関根美夫) was born in Wakayama Prefecture and studied with the painter Yoshihara Jirô (1905-72) who founded the Gutai group of avant-garde artists in 1954. Sekine began painting the abacus in 1963, a single-minded subject that he also explored in many prints.
The ancient abacus, an arithmetic calculator, is raised to the level of symbol, its repeated, mantra-like representations spanning more than a quarter century in Sekine's oeuvre. The variations on this singular theme gain their effect through a regular, metrical quality that is soothing and contemplative. Perhaps his teacher Yoshihara had some influence in this regard, as he, too, explored the repetition of forms—particularly in his later years when he painted black backgrounds, leaving unpainted areas to form circles.
Examples of Sekine's works are in many private and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Modern Art Museum, Munich; the Cincinnati Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Nagoya; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
The example shown here is a silkscreen titled "362-S." It is dated '76 and numbered 29/50. The bold red circle acts provides a telescopic view, enlarging the abacas counters within its circumference. One is also attracted to the contrast between lustrous and matte inks, which add dimensionality and a surprisngly rich surface texture. ©2009 by John Fiorillo
- Blakemore, Frances: Who's Who in Modern Japanese Prints. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1975, p. 176.
- Tolman, Mary S. and Norman H.: People Who Make Japanese Prints—A Personal Glimpse. Sobunsha, Tokyo, May 1982, pp. 22-23; 142-14; and color plate on p. 147.