Born in Kobe in 1919, Kumi Sugai was Japanese contemporary artist who worked energetically in Paris soon after the World War II. He studied paintings while engaging in commercial design. He moved to Paris in 1952 and began producing powerful and pictographic works having Informel-like heavy massive matière. Then he started producing bright-color paintings with symbolized color compositions. Sugai’s works in the 1970s became increasingly geometrical by employing circles and straight lines. During the period from the 1980s to last years of his life, Sugai produced a series of works using “S,” the initial of Sugai and the shape reminding consecutive curves on a road, as a motif. Sugai never stayed on a single style and continued to seek new paintings throughout his life.
The S series is a long sequence of works that took five years, from 1987 to 1991, to complete. The base of the series is a form that seems like two “S” letters in the alphabet placed vertically opposite directions. Sugai used a limited number of colors; principally black, white and red. Red was used only for the hard-edged form while black and white were used to best express brush touches. The paintings structured simply with limited formative elements have brought beautiful diversity of the S shape by repeating the letter throughout the series and a sequence of equally intense images.