People usually think that colors and paintbrushes are necessary to paint. Till now a form of painting deprived of these two elements has never existed. In fact paintings, paintbrushes and colors have been always considered tightly linked one to the other. In spite of that, their relationship is not so pacific and quiet.
Upon thinking, dyeing substances have usually been subordinated to paintbrush existence. And then the dyes course is no more than the story of a long challenge between them and the paintbrush itself. This story of paintbrushes and colors begins at the same starting point. While paintbrushes and dyeing substances begin to be used, tones are not considered by artists as virtually necessary. Upon using only colors and tones the pictorial aim could be reached. It can be mentioned a comparison with Geometry: a line has not an own thickness but when you are going to draw it on a sheet it takes one; a geometric point has not dimensions but when drawn it assumes them. Similarly, colors without matter do not exist. And, for this reason, dyeing substances has been adopted and used, accepting the mediation created by matters expressing colors, in order to give birth to painting. The tragic story of colors had begun.
After undertaking a way to understand and use dyeing substances, several technical changes have occurred. And in these events, Poussin and Leonardo are the ones less interested in color as a substance, and they have almost defeated its materiality.
When I began using dyeing substances I knew nothing on paintbrushes employed during Renaissance, but I have always been sure that everywhere in the world paintbrush and other stuff were and are still needed uniquely to express color, depriving dyeing substances of their power and becoming their slave in order to create colors for which the dyeing substances are no more that a tool. And Japan offers the best examples of this kind of use. Otherwise, as a line without thickness does not exist, a color without its matter does not become concrete. In every situation and place, dyeing substances offer resistance to paintbrush. And whoever the painting author is, such as Rembrandt, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Utrillo or somebody else, it will be always clear through which technique the picture was undergone.
Even if artist does his best to lavish his spiritual genius through the paintbrush, trying to refuse any color materiality, in every canvas the dyeing substance giving color to the picture will be easily recognized. And a paintbrush cannot do anything to offer resistance to that kind of hostility. On the contrary, cracks and erosions, or any other kind of unexpected color transformation, make us discover dyeing substances inner beauty.
Romantic artistic production or the Surrealist one (Dalì is the Master surrealist) show how a powerful and active paintbrush can be used to capture dyeing material and subject it to the author’s narrative intent. Utrillo and Vlaminck are symbols in the path towards dyeing materials refuse. Their touch painted through a slice was intended to move apart dyeing material reality almost beseeching it. However they were able to completely get rid of it. Manet and Van Gogh had only diverted attention from a visual repetition of natural objects taken as models, towards a subjective representation of images as the author perceives them. But, although their results were magnificent, their relationship with coloring substances had not changed with respect to the past experiences already mentioned.
And for these artists dyeing materials remain an expressive mean too. Utrillo, for example, although using a slice rather than a paintbrush, continues to use a tool to show on canvas his expressivity. His particular way of mixing, in an expressive image, the inner beauty coming from dyeing materials quality, is the unique characteristic that makes him different from Poussin. Till now everybody has failed any attempt to get rid of color materiality through the use of paintbrushes and has been forced to give way to the mentioned compromise.
Today, on the other hand, we don’t want to use dyeing materials quality (not oils nor enamels) by distorting them. I just said it: a color without matter does not exist. Then, in realizing a picture to represent a natural image or an idea, what is relevant is to preserve the matter beauty which can survive also under strong paintbrushes attack. I think the first thing to do is to free color from paintbrush. If upon creating something you do not throw away the paintbrush there is no way to bring dyes to existence. To begin, you can use whatsoever kind of tool: instead of paintbrushes you can use your bare hands or a painting slice. Then you can continue using objects, used also by Gutai members such as watering cans, umbrellas, vibrators, abaci, skates, toys, foots, weapons, and others. And in Gutai performances it is also possible that a paintbrush will appear again. In fact, in our innovative representations something can also come from past. But paintbrushes must be used, now, not to kill dyeing matters quality but to make them more vivid.
(Shozo Shimamoto, "Gutai" bulletin, Osaka, april 1° 1957, n. 6)