I believe that all humans have uchuiden kioku ‘cosmic inherent memory’, my work is an exploration of the mysteries of my own uchuiden.


—Hisao Hanafusa

Hisao Hanafusa (b. 1937) was born in Miyakonojō, a city at the southernmost tip of Japan. After graduating from the Kyoto University of Fine Arts, he moved to New York City in 1963, where he became an active participant in the postwar art scene. Most notably, his work was featured in four group exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum in the 70s and 80s. Hanafusa is both an innovative contemporary artist and a superb craftsman of traditional Japanese carpentry. His work combines influences from contemporary Western culture with classical Eastern philosophy, which provides a unique perspective for the understanding of postwar American art. 


Hanafusa’s paintings can be roughly divided into two groups: his tube paintings from the late twentieth century, and his process paintings, which he has worked on since the 2000s. Works from the first group, which combine steel tubes and paint on canvas, share similar visual strategies with the Minimalists, for both were a form of resistance and a response to the dominant modes of artmaking of the time; for Hanafusa, this included the conventional Japanese aesthetic standards that he received from his academic training in Japan, in addition to the prevailing values of high Modernismhe encountered after arriving in the States. 


The process paintings further develop certain elements from Hanafusa’s first period, and form a mystical visual language rooted in his ecosophic worldview. Concepts such as time, materiality, and process are foregrounded through the use of custom-made silver aluminum paint, Hanafusa’s preferred material. This second group includes two series: Cosmic Inherent Memory (Uchuiden Kioku) and Fifth Dimension. Hanafusa believes that all human beings are interconnected through uchuiden, or their shared, latent memories of the cosmos, a concept that serves as the spiritual foundation of his Cosmic Inherent Memory series. The Fifth Dimension series continues his exploration of the materiality of his chosen material (aluminum paint), and the transcendental qualities it possesses. Expanding beyond the categories of causality, existence, and the principles of logic, Hanafusa’s idea of the fifth dimension departs from the three dimensions of space, and the fourth dimension of time; it probes into a mysterious, ineffable territory in order to interrogate the belief of transcendentalism. 


While Hanafusa’s tube paintings can be characterized by their visual restraint, a similarity shared with Mono-ha and Minimalism, the later works highlight the materiality of paint and the natural processes of change and transformation it undergoes. The throughline that connects these two periods of artistic practice is Hanafusa’s continued challenge to the boundary of painting. 


Hanafusa’s artworks can be found in the collections of several world-renowned art institutions, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His carpentry practice has also been featured in the New York Times and New York Magazine.



1961 Graduated from Kyoto University of Fine Arts, Kyoto, Japan


Solo Exhibition

2019 A Unified Horizon, UNIX Gallery, New York, NY, USA
2018 5th Dimension, The New York University Institute of Fine Arts, New York, NY, U.S.A
2017 5th Dimension, Stephen Globus Fine Arts, New York, NY,  U.S.A
  5th Dimension, Koki Arts, Tokyo, Japan
2012 Uchuiden Kioku, Koki Arts, Tokyo, Japan
2011 Uchuiden, Gary Snyder Project Space, New York, NY, U.S.A.
1994 Brenda Hall Gallery, San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.
1992 Connecticut College, New London, CT, USA
1990 A.B.C. Gallery, Osaka, Japan
  Twenty-Five Years in America, Susan Cooper Gallery, Woodstock, NY, U.S.A
1988 Hanafusa:Paintings, The Kendall Gallery, New York, NY, USA
1978 Hanafusa Hisao Solo Exhibition, Green Collection, Tokyo, Japan
1977 Hunterdon Art Center,Hunterdon, NJ, USA
  Hanafusa Hisao Sakuhinten, Nuage: Environment for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.
1976 Kagoshima Art Museum, Kagoshima, Japan
1975 Hisao Hanafusa, Lamagna Gallery, New York, NY, USA
1969 Stable Gallery, New York, NY, U.S.A.
  Hanafusa, Pace College, New York, NY, U.S.A.
1960 Kyoto-fu Gallery, Kyoto, Japan


Group Exhibitions

2019 UNIX Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA
2017 - 2018 Art on Paper, Koki Arts, Osaka, Japan, New York, NY, U.S.A.
2017 Uchuiden, 5th Dimension, Hammond Museum, North Salem, NY, U.S.A.
2011 - 2012 Pre-Opening Exhibition, Koki Arts, Tokyo, Japan
2010 1960’S REVISITED, David Richard Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM, U.S.A.
2006 Crosscurrents in Contemporary Art, The Lobby Gallery, New York, NY, USA
1995 Collection Show, Bergen Museum, Bergen, NJ, U.S.A.
1993 Five Artists Show, Tenri Gallery, New York, NY, USA
1987 Five Artists Show, Gallery International 52, New York, NY, USA

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