Following Yoshihara Jiro’s, leader of the Gutai Group, dictum, “Do
something that no one before you has done,” Saburo Murakami explores a
new type of painting in his work At One Moment Opening Six Holes (1955).
This work is exemplary of some of the Gutai’s most distinctive
innovations in that the artist explores new materials and techniques,
while bringing painting beyond the canvas incorporating time and
Instead of canvas Murakami used paper, instead of paint he marked with
holes, and instead of a paintbrush he used his body. The final result
was hung on the walls of the First Gutai Exhibition in Tokyo, 1955,
juxtaposed by a photograph of the pristine untouched paper stretched
cleanly over its supports. This juxtaposition causes the viewer to
wonder how the work was created and thus acts as a reminder that the
final result is not the work in its entirety, the process of creation is
of equal importance as the painting hung on the wall. Murakami created
this piece by crashing through three paper screens six times.
The paper screens were tightly stretched around their supports creating a
booming drum-like effect each time the artist confronted his object.
Time and theatricality are an integral part of this painting as sound,
movement, and the passage of time work simultaneously to create an
aesthetic experience. The process of creation is thus a work itself.
This idea is emphasized through the documentation of the work where we
often see the artist posing for the camera as if he is in
mid-performance. What is more, Murakami recreated this piece in later
performances, Passage (1956) and Battle With a Paper Screen, (Gutai Art
on Stage, 1957) again reinforcing the process of creation as fundamental
to the work.