“Takayasu Itoh: From Painting to Environment”

by Matthew Larking

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art

Closes Mar. 3

Takayasu Itoh’s (1934-1985) transition to sculpture happened when the internal elements of his painting broke forth from the frame. The mini-retrospective “From Painting to Environment” at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (www.artm.pref.hyogo.jp) flies through Itoh’s initial figurative 2-D works from 1950 to abstractions in 1959 that share the expressionistic visual appeal of of the New York School.

But the search for a more physical expression led the artist to bunch up canvases into creases. His “Infinite” series focused on the regular ordering of forms to suggest unlimited space. Later work gradually assumed a fuller 3-D form, abandoning flatness completely for the layering of surfaces.

From 1967, Itoh began using translucent acrylic sheets that he cut away in segments. Arranged into cubic forms and illuminated from below, they give a virtual image of visual volume, as in his “Hand in Negative Space” (1968). His stab at multimedia — “Environmental Video” (1983) — is yet another new take on a well-rehearsed concept. The camera attends solely to surface movements of the sea as a kind of convulsing skin that cloaks unimaginable depths below.