Shozo Shimamoto in yellow

by Alain Chivilò


The performance by Japanese artist Shozo Shimamoto, the last in Italy in the events that involved him in Reggio Emilia, was born and starts from a thousand-year-old act that human beings perform every day in different fields. It is not an ironic gesture, or one aimed at making troubles in people or environments, as someone, who doesn’t know, might think and immediately emulate faced with persons but, rather a non-violent and intelligent artistic representation within the painting of action and movement.

Ten years after his death, the tribute video. From Reggio Emilia, 2011, his latest performances in Italy live. Called Ashiya 1956, it was a non-heavy, non-bad and non-angry artistic representation, which used the color yellow and a sorghum broom. A private performance for few art lovers.

From Jirō Yoshihara’s Gutai movement, to his way of approaching action painting on a global level: 嶋本 昭三 Shozo Shimamoto (Osaka, 22 January 1928 – Osaka, 25 January 2013).

In an interview with the art critic and curator dr Alain Chivilò, two questions to Shozo resumed here.

Please Note:  © Alain Chivilò – Art Musa

One of his phrases: “freeing the color from the brush”. What does it mean?

I want to detach the color from the brush to free them both. The concept is this. Together they influence each other, so to free them the only thing is not to use the brush.

The throwing of bottles full of color is the technique that most characterizes his work. What are the reasons that led you to this solution?

The young Gutai artists who had grouped around Jiro Yoshihara wanted to take the work done by the master calligraphers (particularly from Nantenbo) in a new direction. In the characters written by Nantenbo there were “nijimi: shades/smudges”, “kasure: fading”, “tobichiri: splashes/sprays” and “tare: drips” and other effects that were not expressible with the oil paint of that time. Kazuo Shiraga began to draw with his feet while suspended from a rope fixed to the ceiling, Saburo Murakami opened holes by jumping and tearing large sheets of paper previously fixed on frames in flight. I, who was physically weak compared to the two of them, thought about throwing the paint into bottles or exploding it with a cannon. I have been producing works by throwing bottles for a long time. Throwing violently, gently, using a large or small canvas, are all variations. I also try to satisfy any requests from the organizers or to adapt the contents of the performance to the scenario. I think that bottle throwing as a method of painting is still a form of studying the unknown. I find it stimulating more than anything else the fact that the expression of an unpredictable picture materializes. The greatest meaning of this phenomenon might actually be zen. However, even now I am on the path and for this reason one should not think that I have reached enlightenment.

Further information in the video: Shozo Shimamoto | Ashiya 1956



©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo

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