Jiro Yoshihara (January 1, 1905 Osaka, Japan – February 19, 1972 Ashiya, Japan) was a painter and founder/leader of the Gutai group in Osaka.
Jiro Yoshihara was the second son of a wealthy merchant family.
He did not receive any formal art education during his childhood.
In his twenties, he received guidance from Kamiyama Jiro, who taught European art and philosophy, and Tsuguharu Foujita, who lived in Paris in those years.
Yoshihara later joined the Nika-kai (Second Section Association), a group of predominately fauvist style painters, that came out from the Ministry of Education’s academic salon.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Yoshihara was attracted to the work of Giorgio de Chirico, Joan Miró, and Wassily Kandinsky.
In 1934, Yoshihara’s first exhibition was taken place at the Nika-kai’s annual show.
During the 1930s, Yoshihara works were created in a surrealist manner that was popular among Japanese avant-garde artists. Gradually, Yoshihara gains his interest in geometric abstraction.
In 1938, he founded the Kyushitsu-kai.
Approximately during the years of 1935 to 1945, it was the darkest and the most least active period for Yoshihara.
The main focus of Yoshihara was gaining recognition in the art world through Japanese tradition.
In 1952 Yoshihara participated to the Salon de Mai in Paris.
In 1953 the first exhibition of the “Contemporary Art Discussion Group” was held in his workshop out of home in Shibuya with Shōzō Shimamoto, one of his students who would later be part of the Gutai group.
In 1954, along with Shōzō Shimamoto, he co-founded the avant-garde Gutai group in Osaka and became there leader.
Around the same time, a group called Zero Society had formed who experimented with conceptual and performance art. They would later join the Gutai formed by Yoshihara.
His most typical work are depiction of circles.
When asked about his circles, Yoshihara said that he could not manage to paint even one circle with satisfaction, an indication of the depths of his pursuit of this form.
Indeed, no two of his circles are shaped exactly alike. He was the leader of the Gutai Group until his death in 1972.