Itsuro Saika was born in 1928 in Tottori prefecture, Japan. At the age of 16, he started studying with poet, litterateur Ikutada Hayakawa and sculptor Shindo Tsuji. At the age of 23, he left for Tokyo to study contemporary art. Around 1960, Saika started holding solo exhibitions in galleries including Muramatsu Gallery, Shirota Gallery, Ochanomizu Gallery and Koshindo Gallery. In 1977, he published Kuro (Black), a book showcasing collection of his works. Saika kept writing Waka (Japanese poem) until his old age.
Japanese art scene after WWII was marked by a series of artistic revolutions, including the rise of Gutai, Mono-Ha and other groups. However, Saika’s unique artistic language cannot be easily categorized. Born in Tottori prefecture, a region well-known for its paper production, Saika paid special attention to “paper”, the paramount medium of painting, and used a great amount of washi (handmade Japanese paper) in his works. He utilized a unique and original technique, overlapping layers of pencil, Gofun (paint powder made from seashells) and chalk to thick washi, creating a series of profound and intelligent landscapes that reflect his mind and emotions. Three important characteristics of his work are “the absence of subject”, “strong repetitiveness” and “juxtaposition of pigments”. With double background of literati and contemporary art studies, Saika produced works that express the tension between modernity and tradition. His work presents avant-garde forms but is still marked by traditional spirit. From 1960 to 1994 is a prolific period of Saika’s career. His works are mainly appreciated by domestic collectors. Important exhibitions include: “Itsuro Saika: Between White and Pure White”, Yonago City Museum of Art (1995); Group exhibition “A Labyrinth of Lines”, Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo (2007); “An Exhibit of the works of Itsuro Saika”, Fujisawa Civic Art Gallery (2009).