As a founding member of the Gutai movement, one of the most important artist collectives in postwar Japan, alongside his mentor Jiro Yoshihara, Shozo Shimamoto emerged as a key figure in the Japanese avant-garde by the mid-1950s. Shimamoto’s diverse body of work that dates from the Gutai period (1954-1971), and after, often integrates the bodily involvement of both artist and viewer, while transforming the conventional descriptions of the fields of painting and sculpture. His action-based painting style was the Eastern, independently born answer to some of the key artistic developments in the post-war American art scene, such as Jackson Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism and Allan Kaprow’s Happenings. Shimamoto’s practice of creating paintings through performances entailing the throwing of vessels of paint onto a canvas is one that developed in the 1950s and was carried through by the artist until his death in 2013. Shimamoto’s works – splatters of paint that integrate the detritus of his performances, such as broken glass, are not simply paintings, but rather serve as lasting material reminders of his actions. Like his fellow Gutai artists, for Shimamoto the means of producing an artwork is more important than the end result.Shozo Shimamoto was born in Osaka, Japan in 1928, and attended Kansui Gakuin University. Well-known for his contributions to Gutai and the development of the mail art movement, Shimamoto’s work has been included in a number of important exhibitions dedicated to Gutai, including at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), MOCA (Los Angeles) and the Jeu de Paume (Paris). In recognition of his pacifist activities, Shimamoto was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. Shimamoto’s work is included in many notable public collections such as those of the Tate Modern (London), the National Museum of Modern Art (Rome), and the Tokyo Contemporary Art Museum. Shimamoto died in Osaka in 2013 at the age of 85.
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