Archived exhibition
3rd Floor Gallery

Kazuo Shiraga
Paintings & Watercolours 1954-2007

1 November–20 December 2007

Kazuo Shiraga, one of Japan’s most famous painters, creates dramatic oil paintings using his feet by swinging from a rope hung from the ceiling of his studio. He is still working at the age of 83.
This exhibition at Annely Juda Fine Art is his second one-person show in the UK – the first was at Annely Juda Fine Art in 2001. The exhibition includes over 15 of his dynamic action paintings from the period 1954 - 2005.

Kazuo Shiraga was a member of the highly influential Japanese avant garde group, Gutai, formed in 1954, which aimed to create art that “combined human creative ability with the characteristics of the material”. This human creativity for the Gutai artists was dynamic, vital and physical and strongly linked to spiritualism. They were the precursors of today’s installation and performance artists. These characteristics are prominent in Shiraga’s works which are bold and gestural with thick swathes of vibrant paint covering the canvas.

In 1971 Shiraga became an esoteric Buddhist priest. Esoteric Buddhism employs trance-like states for spiritual reasons and Shiraga saw a connection between this and the mental state he achieved whilst painting. His paintings are thus a combination of conscious and unconscious, a union of spontaneity and formalism.

The 25 works in this exhibition range over 50 years from 1954 to 2007 including six large paintings more than 250 cm length. This exhibition of one of the great masters of Japanese Art sustains the West’s increased interest in contemporary Japanese work and helps to place it in an important historical context.