Shōzō Shimamoto. Recent Works
Curated by Ilaria Porotto
From May 11th until June 30th, 2018, Dellupi Arte gallery in Milan is delighted to present the exhibition Shōzō Shimamoto. Recent Works, a solo show dedicated to the Japanese Master and co-founder of the Gutai Artistic Movement, born in 1954 in the Kansai region of Japan. Considered to be among the most audacious and experimental interpreters of post-World War II, Shōzō Shimamoto's research commences with the strong personality of fellow artist Jirō Yoshihara (1905-1972). Inspired by the works of Jackson Pollock and Georges Mathieu, in which we «perceive - as Yoshihara writes in the Gutai Manifesto of 1956 - the shrieks of the material but can feel the mutual need for vitality», the artistic movement promotes a new language that cuts with the traditional expressive criterions and represents an instinctive liberation of creativity, departing the traditional Japanese pictorial gestures and aiming at unrevealed and original expressive approaches. The works of the artists in the group are stylistically very different, but bound together by a pronounced concern for the instantaneity and the procedural development rather than for the final outcome. Guided by Yoshihara but without a common poetics or a homogeneous style, the members of the group - each with different techniques and expressive results - create according to unrestrained imaginative associations, following their own drive and avoiding as much as possible the control of their creative impulse.
Shimamoto is immediately encouraged to experiment with techniques and artistic languages that can break the codified patterns of traditional painting, placing himself on that thin line between creation and destruction. His apparently violent and aggressive actions, which have also become his peculiar pictorial technique, serve to trigger an explosive and uncontrollable process. Following the advice of Master Yoshihara, Shimamoto is interested in how to convey his creative impetus instantaneously, transcending the brutal nature of his technique in favor of an impulsive, direct, almost cathartic expressive need. Following the death of Yoshihara and the dissolution of the Gutai group in the early Seventies, the improvisation that has characterized the whole of Shimamoto’s poetics is now combined with greater theatricalization: the vehemence of the casting of color is accomplished in movements that are more choreographic, the action is enriched with rituals shared with the audience. Elements such as music, the scenic setting, the participation of actors transform the artistic action into increasingly audacious and spectacular performances.
«The artwork is a castle in the clouds. In a normal profession you must move paying close attention to each step you take [...]. In the art world instead, being castles in the air, you need to focus on the infinite and dream of the furthermost future».
The exhibition - which comprises about a dozen works including paintings and sculptures - shows some of the paintings created with the technique of color casting, the Bottle Crash. Shimamoto uses for the first time the technique of color casting in 1956, in an impressive performance for the Outdoor Gutai Art Exhibition when he crafts a rudimentary cannon by hand to shoot bags of color on a monumental canvas suspended among trees. Later that year, he accomplishes his first real Bottle Crashes: vigorously throwing bottles filled with different pigments against a boulder placed on the ground in the middle of a large canvas.
Among the exhibited works created using this technique: Silk Road 19 (2006-07) and Magi 908, performed in 2008, where fragments of glass, tangible traces of the performance and the explosive throws of the artist are visible mixed with the color on the surface of the canvas. The latter, created at the MAGI '900 Museum in Pieve di Cento (Bologna), is the result of an intense performance, in which the artist has launched various color containers on some sculptures (Magi 948) and on large textile sheets spread on the floor while accompanied by music. Still dating back to 2008, there are also a couple of works realized during a performance at Punta Campanella (Naples) – Punta Campanella 14 and Punta Campanella 09 – in which the artist also engaged a group of dancers in wedding dress, bearing on their heads glasses full of color. Dating back to 2003, the work Venice Biennale 04 is realized in that year on the occasion of the Master’s presentation of the Brain Academy Apartment Project.