Tomoyoshi Murayama

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Tomoyoshi Murayama (1901–77) grew up a devoted Christian and was tutored by the iconoclastic Christian philosopher Uchimura Kanzo. He was accepted as a philosophy student at Tokyo Imperial University but decided to study philosophy and Christianity in Germany. Arriving in Berlin in early 1922, he found himself disqualified as a student because he did not read Latin. So he looked up an old friend, an expatriate Japanese poet, who introduced him to Herwarth Walden and the Galerie Der Sturm. Although Murayama had little formal training, he was invited to contribute a painting to The Great Futurist Exhibition at the Neumann Gallery in Berlin in 1922. Also that year, he participated in the raucous Congress of International Artists in Dusseldorf. He met Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who gave him a copy of his manifesto on tactilism, which Murayama translated and distributed in Japan in 1923. He saw productions of Expressionist plays, watched Mary Wigman dance, and was deeply impressed by the interpretive dances of Niddy Impekoven. George Grosz and Max Reinhardt inspired him to become a socialist. After eleven months Murayama returned to Japan, began exhibiting the mixed-media paintings he carried back from Germany, and made himself a celebrity.

Murayama’s primary rhetorical venue became the group Mavo. Its major target was the codification of an autonomous “pure art” based on the Western modernism that was well-established in Mejii culture. Inspired in varying degrees by Dada, Constructivism, Futurism, anarchism, and Marxism, the Mavo group adopted Murayama’s theory of "conscious constructivism" as a means of reintegrating art into the praxis of everyday life. The most straightforward realization of this ambition was Mavo activity in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Mavo artists participated in the reconstruction of Tokyo with several architectural projects related to the assemblage aesthetic Murayama identified with Constructivism. (Source)

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