Gutai Co-Founder Shozo Shimamoto Exhibition at De Buck Gallery


Shozo Shimamoto, Gutai, avant-garde, Japanese art, Japanese artists, De Buck Gallery, NYC, Japan, Jiro Yoshihara
Palazzo Ferretto 1 by Shozo Shimamoto. Photo courtesy of De Buck Gallery

Shozo Shimamoto

Thursday, May 7 through Saturday, June 20
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 7 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

De Buck Gallery – 545 W. 23rd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)

Admission: Free

De Buck Gallery presents Shozo Shimamoto’s solo debut at both the gallery and in New York City.

As a founder of the Gutai Art movement alongside his mentor Jiro Yoshihara, Shozo Shimamoto (1928-2013) emerged as a key figure in the Japanese avant-garde by the mid-1950s. In the recovering environment of post-war Japan, Gutai offered an artistic solution that channeled the violence of the war experience into a flourishing creativity. With Yoshihara’s instructions to make something unprecedented in art, Shimamoto and his comrades embarked upon a new sort of art that relied heavily on performance and the bodily involvement of the artist in its creation.

As a key member of the movement, Shozo Shimamoto carved out a place in art history during a key juncture of cultural globalization and cross-pollination. With its strong emphasis on the physical involvement of the artist and the issue of chance in the creation of the work, Shimamoto’s work exemplifies a new concept of painting in a changing world.

One of Shimamoto’s most important contributions to this early Gutai period was his 1956 Bottle Crash performance. The works included in the current exhibition, dating from 1999 to 2008, largely draw from the series that evolved from this initial performance, which the artist first recreated at the 1993 Venice Biennale. In these Bottle Crash performances, Shimamoto threw glass and plastic containers full of vibrant paint against a canvas laid at his feet, smashing the vessels and creating a sea of abstract forms integrating detritus, such as broken glass, from the performances. Thus, the paintings function both as stand-alone artworks and as performance ephemera. At first glance, the finished works strongly resemble those of Jackson Pollock, and there is indeed a connection in the gestural nature of these two artists. However, whereas Pollock’s work symbolizes the hegemony of the United States politically and culturally in the years following World War II, Shimamoto’s work represents a crossing of the boundaries between traditional painting and the then-young medium of performance to create evocative works of art.

Shimamoto worked as a member of the Gutai group until 1971, and thereafter became a key figure in the Mail Art movement. Also recognized for his pacifist activities, Shozo Shimamoto was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996.

For more information, please visit De Buck Gallery’s website.