Shiraga Kazuo, born in Amagasaki City (Hyogo Prefecture), was a core member of the Gutai Art Association, which was the driving force behind the avant-garde art movement in post-war Japan. Recently, he has been experiencing fresh and growing international acclaim. Shiraga began creating his "foot paintings" in 1954, the year before he joined Gutai, by painting with his feet directly onto a support spread out on the floor, opening up unknown territory through this practice and exploration.
By taking a bold leap over existing artistic and social norms, his radical method of putting physical movement (i.e., action or performance) — traditionally nothing more than a means of production — front and centre became a ground-breaking idea, revealing the primitive human act of creation.
Shiraga's works — which adhered to radical principles in their creation even after the Gutai Art Association was dissolved in 1972 — contained the kind of awesome power that burns through all of human existence in space and time, and matter and motion. At the same time, his works are richly imbued with the unique allure of oil paintings: the drippiness, ooziness, viscousness, runniness, and robustness of the paint.
With his sui generis humanistic approach to questions about how to enhance human qualities and sensibilities and questions about religious spirituality, Shiraga’s explorations await examination from a variety of perspectives.
This exhibition, held more than 10 years after Shiraga's death, is the first real solo exhibition of his works in Tokyo. It features approximately 90 paintings from his early years to his later years, as well as experimental three-dimensional works, videos of legendary performances, drawings and materials. Altogether, a total of about 130 works will be presented to provide full picture of the artist's activities.
oil on canvas
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (Yamamura Collection)
- The first large exhibition of Shiraga Kazuo at a museum in Tokyo, covering nearly the full scope of his work
- Thirty masterpieces and representative works from the 1950s and 1960s, when Gutai was at its height
- Rarely-exhibited works from the 1970s influenced by esoteric Buddhism.
- Precious video footage of a performance and the process of creation from the early days of Gutai.
- Numerous drawings, photographs, scrapbooks, manuscripts, and other materials that show the progression of works.