70 x 50 cm
Screenprint on paper
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist
Offene Mitte [Open center]
Annual members’ gift, Stiftung für konstruktive und konkrete Kunst, 1993
Shizuko Yoshikawa (born 1934 in Omuta, Japan, died 2019 in Zurich, Switzerland) studied English literature, architecture, and product design in Tokyo before moving to Europe in 1961. She had met Josef Müller-Brockmann, who is still one of the most important Swiss graphic designers and typographers today, in 1960 at the “World Design Conference Tokyo.” She also got to know Otl Aicher and Tomás Maldonado, two key figures from the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm (Ulm School of Design), which was co-founded by Max Bill. She began studying visual communication in Ulm in 1961. Two years later, she moved to Zurich, where she worked as a graphic designer in Müller-Brockmann’s studio until 1967.
Yoshikawa began focusing on fine art in 1970. Influenced by the Zurich Concretes (who were a generation older), she began producing two- and three-dimensional works in which she explored different structures. She continued to expand on this theme in her series “Farbschatten” (Color Shadow) (1976–ongoing). In these white relief structures, the colored edges of the different layers of the artwork appear as lines, creating a pattern of the most delicate nuances of light and color. Along with the (already mentioned) influences of Swiss art and Bauhaus, the structures of these works are also based on the grid system used in traditional Japanese architecture.
This merging of European design principles with a Far Eastern philosophy of life and aesthetics constitutes a key characteristic of her work. As the art historian and curator Guido Magnaguagno remarked on the occasion of an exhibition of the artist’s work in the Kunsthaus Zürich in 2000 that, since the beginning of her career, the artist “has turned more and more toward her Eastern roots. The physical has dissolved and the invisible has become the defining theme of her work as a ‘cosmic grid structure.’”
Shizuko Yoshikawa has not only received numerous awards and grants for her internationally exhibited works and her art in architecture projects, she has also often been invited as a speaker – for example, at the School of Architecture and Environmental Design in Buffalo (1987), the University of Arizona in Tucson (1989), and the University of Bogotá, Columbia (1991).