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Shiraga painting with his feet for Life magainze, at the Nishinomiya factory of Yoshihara's salad oil company, 1956.

Shiraga painting with his feet for Life magainze, at the Nishinomiya factory of Yoshihara's salad oil company, 1956.

Mnuchin Gallery is proud to announce an exhibition of major paintings by Kazuo Shiraga (1924 – 2008).  Tracing the evolution of Shiraga’s signature “foot painting” method over his entire career, it will feature 20 examples spanning nearly five decades, beginning in 1959.  It will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue authored by noted Gutai scholar Dr. Ming Tiampo, Associate Professor of Art History at Carleton University, with an introduction by Dr. Reiko Tomii, independent art historian and curator.  The exhibition will be on view February 10 - April 11, 2015.

Shiraga first embarked upon his experiments with foot painting in 1954, on a quest to articulate a radical individualism as a rejection of Japan’s wartime militarism. Throwing away his brushes and rejecting his hands as too trained, Shiraga began painting with his feet, which enabled a fresh and direct mode of expression. Starting with paper or canvas laid out on the floor, the artist would deposit copious amounts of oil paint on the surface, and paint with the movements of his bare feet, sometimes hanging from the ceiling by a rope. Shiraga went on to employ this method of painting for the rest of his career, declaring, “I have never doubted that ‘action painting’ is my expression, never stopped it.  I will single-mindedly continue to paint my painting with a sincere desire that the pleasure of making a painting will be communicated to those who see it.”1 While the palette and mood of these works evolved over time, they are united by a vigorous energy and a facture so dramatically rich and textured as to be almost sculptural.   

Shiraga placing paint with palette knife, ca. 1965

Shiraga placing paint with palette knife, ca. 1965

A leading member of the Gutai Art Association, the most influential collective of avant-garde artists in postwar Japan, Shiraga is known not only for his innovations in action painting but also for his groundbreaking performances, such as Challenging Mud (1955), which predated Allan Kaprow’s Happenings in the United States and Europe.  Shiraga’s work featured prominently in the Museum of Modern Art’s 2012-2013 exhibition, Tokyo 1955 – 1970: A New Avant-Garde and in the Guggenheim’s 2013 exhibition, Gutai: Splendid Playground, co-curated by Dr. Tiampo.

Shiraga will be the subject of Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga, a two-person exhibition opening at the Dallas Museum of Art in February 2015.

1. Kazuo Shiraga, “Akushon peintingu eno michi” [A path to action painting], trans. Reiko Tomii in Kazuo Shiraga: Six Decades, exh. cat. (New York: McCaffrey Fine Art, 2009), 68.  Originally published in Shiraga Kazuo-ten, exh. cat. (Amagasaki: Amagasaki Cultural Center, 1989). 

 

この足で描きはじめてよりの三十五年の間に、現代美術の世界ではいろんな新しいものが生まれ、流行の嵐が吹き荒れた。しかし私はアクションペインティングこそ自分 の芸術表現と信じて疑わず、これをやり続けてきた。絵を描くことの喜びが、観る人達に伝わることを一心に願って、自分の絵をひたすら描き続けるだけである。


THIRTY-FIVE YEARS SINCE I INVENTED MY FOOT PAINTING, THE ART WORLD HAS SEEN MANY NEW THINGS, MANY STYLISTIC STORMS.  HOWEVER, I HAVE NEVER DOUBTED THAT “ACTION PAINTING”  IS MY EXPRESSION, NEVER STOPPED IT. I WILL SINGLE-MINDEDLY  CONTINUE TO PAINT MY PAINTING WITH A SINCERE DESIRE THAT THE PLEASURE OF MAKING A PAINTING WILL BE COMMUNICATED TO THOSE WHO SEE IT. 

- KAZUO SHIRAGA

Installations

Installations Thumbnails
Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc.

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Untitled 1959 oil on canvas

Untitled
1959
oil on canvas
71 3/4 x 107 inches (182.2 x 271.8 cm)

Chibisei Waikyakuko [Dwarf Tiger incarnated from Earthly Subtle Star]

Chibisei Waikyakuko [Dwarf Tiger incarnated from Earthly Subtle Star]
1959
oil on canvas
48 1/2 x 47 1/4 inches (123.2 x 120 cm)

Chikaisei Shinki Gunshi [Miraculous Strategist incarnated from Earthly Charging Star]

Chikaisei Shinki Gunshi [Miraculous Strategist incarnated from Earthly Charging Star]
1961
oil on canvas
51 1/8 x 76 7/8 inches (129.9 x 195.3 cm)

Chihekisei Dakosho [Tiger-Fighting General incarnated from Earthly Remote Star]

Chihekisei Dakosho [Tiger-Fighting General incarnated from Earthly Remote Star]
1961
oil on canvas
63 3/4 x 51 1/4 inches (162 x 130 cm)

Chiisei Hakumenrokun [White Faced Squire incarnated from Earthly Peculiar Star]

Chiisei Hakumenrokun [White Faced Squire incarnated from Earthly Peculiar Star]
1961
oil on canvas
63 3/4 x 51 1/4 inches (162 x 130 cm)

Chikusei Shohao [Little King incarnated from Earthly Empty Star]

Chikusei Shohao [Little King incarnated from Earthly Empty Star]
1961
oil on canvas
51 1/4  x 63 3/4 inches (130 x 162 cm)

T23 (Asahina Saburo-Wada Yoshihide)

T23 (Asahina Saburo-Wada Yoshihide)
1962
oil on canvas
64 1/8 x 51 7/8 inches (163 x 132 cm)

Untitled 1964 oil on canvas

Untitled
1964
oil on canvas
19 1/2  x 25 1/2 inches (49.5 x 64.8 cm)

Daikokuten [God of Wealth]

Daikokuten [God of Wealth]
1972
alkyd paint on canvas
51 5/8 x 64 1/8 inches (131.1 x 162.9 cm)

Gusoku Jintsuriki [Armed with Divine Power]

Gusoku Jintsuriki [Armed with Divine Power]
1982
oil on canvas
63 3/4 x 51 1/4 inches (161.9 x 130.2 cm)

Enji [Dark Red]

Enji [Dark Red]
1983
oil on canvas
52 x 77 inches (132.1 x 195.6 cm)

Kakueki [Luminous Shine]

Kakueki [Luminous Shine]
1985
oil on canvas
51 1/8 x 63 7/8 inches (130 x 162 cm)

Zuisohen [Auspicious Sign]

Zuisohen [Auspicious Sign]
1986
oil on canvas
51 3/10 x 63 4/5 inches (130.30  x 162.10 cm)

Hoshokai [Lop Nur]

Hoshokai [Lop Nur]
1988
oil on canvas
71 1/8 x 89 3/8 inches (181 x 227 cm)

Tokko [Self-Reliance] 1989

Tokko [Self-Reliance]
1989
oil on canvas
89 3/8  x 71 1/4 inches (227 x 181 cm)

Choryo [Jumping Dragon]

Choryo [Jumping Dragon]
1994
oil on canvas
76 x 102 inches (193 x 259.1 cm)

Chimosei Hakujitsuso [Daylight Rat incarnated from Earthly Wasted Star]

Chimosei Hakujitsuso [Daylight Rat incarnated from Earthly Wasted Star]
2001
oil on canvas
76 x 51 1/8 inches (193 x 129.9 cm)

Untitled 1959 oil on canvas

Untitled
1959
oil on canvas
71 3/4 x 107 inches (182.2 x 271.8 cm)

Chibisei Waikyakuko [Dwarf Tiger incarnated from Earthly Subtle Star]

Chibisei Waikyakuko [Dwarf Tiger incarnated from Earthly Subtle Star]
1959
oil on canvas
48 1/2 x 47 1/4 inches (123.2 x 120 cm)

Chikaisei Shinki Gunshi [Miraculous Strategist incarnated from Earthly Charging Star]

Chikaisei Shinki Gunshi [Miraculous Strategist incarnated from Earthly Charging Star]
1961
oil on canvas
51 1/8 x 76 7/8 inches (129.9 x 195.3 cm)

Chihekisei Dakosho [Tiger-Fighting General incarnated from Earthly Remote Star]

Chihekisei Dakosho [Tiger-Fighting General incarnated from Earthly Remote Star]
1961
oil on canvas
63 3/4 x 51 1/4 inches (162 x 130 cm)

Chiisei Hakumenrokun [White Faced Squire incarnated from Earthly Peculiar Star]

Chiisei Hakumenrokun [White Faced Squire incarnated from Earthly Peculiar Star]
1961
oil on canvas
63 3/4 x 51 1/4 inches (162 x 130 cm)

Chikusei Shohao [Little King incarnated from Earthly Empty Star]

Chikusei Shohao [Little King incarnated from Earthly Empty Star]
1961
oil on canvas
51 1/4  x 63 3/4 inches (130 x 162 cm)

T23 (Asahina Saburo-Wada Yoshihide)

T23 (Asahina Saburo-Wada Yoshihide)
1962
oil on canvas
64 1/8 x 51 7/8 inches (163 x 132 cm)

Untitled 1964 oil on canvas

Untitled
1964
oil on canvas
19 1/2  x 25 1/2 inches (49.5 x 64.8 cm)

Daikokuten [God of Wealth]

Daikokuten [God of Wealth]
1972
alkyd paint on canvas
51 5/8 x 64 1/8 inches (131.1 x 162.9 cm)

Gusoku Jintsuriki [Armed with Divine Power]

Gusoku Jintsuriki [Armed with Divine Power]
1982
oil on canvas
63 3/4 x 51 1/4 inches (161.9 x 130.2 cm)

Enji [Dark Red]

Enji [Dark Red]
1983
oil on canvas
52 x 77 inches (132.1 x 195.6 cm)

Kakueki [Luminous Shine]

Kakueki [Luminous Shine]
1985
oil on canvas
51 1/8 x 63 7/8 inches (130 x 162 cm)

Zuisohen [Auspicious Sign]

Zuisohen [Auspicious Sign]
1986
oil on canvas
51 3/10 x 63 4/5 inches (130.30  x 162.10 cm)

Hoshokai [Lop Nur]

Hoshokai [Lop Nur]
1988
oil on canvas
71 1/8 x 89 3/8 inches (181 x 227 cm)

Tokko [Self-Reliance] 1989

Tokko [Self-Reliance]
1989
oil on canvas
89 3/8  x 71 1/4 inches (227 x 181 cm)

Choryo [Jumping Dragon]

Choryo [Jumping Dragon]
1994
oil on canvas
76 x 102 inches (193 x 259.1 cm)

Chimosei Hakujitsuso [Daylight Rat incarnated from Earthly Wasted Star]

Chimosei Hakujitsuso [Daylight Rat incarnated from Earthly Wasted Star]
2001
oil on canvas
76 x 51 1/8 inches (193 x 129.9 cm)

Event Photos

Event Photos Thumbnails
Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

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