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Ay-O: Dainichi Nyorai

Japan, Showa period, 1987


Colour silkscreen on paper, 74 × 60 cm (image size 56 × 43,5 cm), ed. 20/200, signed and dated in pencil Ay-O '87. Professionally framed in gilded wooden frame. Very fine condition.


Dainichi Nyorai (lit. "Great Sun") is worshipped as the supreme, primordial sun Buddha and also appears as the central figure of the five Dhyani Buddhas. Unlike the other Buddhas, Dainichi Nyorai is typically depicted in the form of a boddhisattva, with the garments, adornments, and long hair of the nobility of ancient India


Ay-O is the artist name of Takao Iijima, born 1931 in Ibaraki prefecture located at the Pacific coast of Honshu island. Ay-O has become famous in and outside of Japan as the "Rainbow Artist" for his use of colourful, rainbow-striped motifs in his artwork. In its purest form, some paintings are simple gradations of the rainbow, with up to 192 gradations.

    Ay-O was fascinated by the colours of the rainbow and the depiction of subjects in spectral colours. For him it was a way to combine modern art with the traditional Japanese view of nature. Often he took typical subjects of traditional ukiyo-e and transformed them into his own language of cubistic compositions and colour separations. 


In 1958 Ay-O relocated to New York with a strong admiration for Jackson Pollock and Michel Duchamp at heart. He became a founding member of the so-called Fluxus Movement and has established a reputation in the avant-gardes of Japan, Europe and the United States. In 1966 Ay-O represented Japan at the International biennale in Venice. Travels to Europe and India followed.

    Works by Ay-O are to be found in the collections of The British Museum, MoMA, Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, and Cincinnati Art Museum among others. In 2006 and 2010 two retrospective exhibitions spanning over fifty years of his creation of ‘rainbows’ were put on in Japan. 


"There is no doubt that one of the true aims of art is humor..." - Ay-O

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