Sam Francis was born in San Mateo, California and studied at the California School of Fine Arts. In 1947 the Abstract Expressionist painters Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still visited the school and their influence on the development of Francis's work is apparent. In the early 1950s he lived in Paris, and subsequently travelled widely. He was therefore not directly connected with the New York-based artists who spearheaded Abstract Expressionism. Even so, he exhibited with those artists and gained international recognition. This work was painted after a visit to Japan. Its characteristic use of colours floating in space fuses painterly gesture with Francis's interest in the notion of the void, derived from Oriental thought.