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Kumi Sugaï, one of the most internationally acclaimed Japanese painters of the twentieth century.

’ Balle et Balle ’ 1970 lithograph by Kumi Sugai. Hand signed and numbered in pencil by the artist. 52/100. Printed in Japan.

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Kumi Sugai was a Japanese painter. Best known for his Minimalist and Hard Edge geometric abstractions, Sugai was influenced by the relationships between Japanese calligraphy and Western typography. His paintings often featured a singular, centrally placed shape and a highly graphic aesthetic. Born in Kobe, Japan on March 13, 1919, he developed an interest in art a young age, initially enrolling at the Osaka School of Fine Arts in 1933 and later dropping out to work in commercial advertising during the Second World War. By 1952, Sugai settled in Paris, where he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere and absorbed contemporary Western painting styles, including Abstract Expressionism and, later, Minimalism and Pop Art. At first, Sugai adopted traditional ukiyo-e woodblock techniques, using bright colors to create prints infused with avant-garde art influences. In the 1960s, however, he transitioned into painting and printing more geometric images of letters and directional signs. Before his death on May 14, 1996 in Kobe, Japan, Sugai achieved international success, participating in the Pittsburgh International five times between 1955 and 1970, and holding a major retrospective of his work at the Seibu Museum of Art in Tokyo in 1983.