Yuko Shiraishi Japanese, b. 1956

Shiraishi was born in Tokyo in 1956 and moved to London to study painting at Chelsea School of Art in 1978. She is recognised for her often large and minimal abstract canvases exploring the formal properties of colour and composition.


Bands of contrasting colours and tones ranging from delicate layered organic brushwork to sections of heavier grainy and combed surfaces interplay to create formal rather than illusionistic space.  Nuances of light and colour break through from subtle layers of underpainting. Whilst this pre-occupation with the formal qualities of paint and composition roots Shiraishi’s work in the genre of American abstract and colour field painting, her works are sensual and evocative. In her more recent canvases the painted surfaces are made by the layering of thinner washes of paint which give a subtle luminocity and the compositions are punctuated by small dots or spots of colour - each carefully placed as a point of reference on the surface, breaking up any interpreted visual depth or perspective.  Shiraishi’s stunning use of colour, tone and composition make her works seductive to the eye and the senses yet at the same time fascinate as intellectual explorations into the formal language of painting.


Alongside her paintings, Shiraishi is also known for her architectural and conceptual projects.   In particular, in 2009 she created Space Elevator Tea House, a skeletal building constructed from stainless steel tubes and plexiglass replicating an early 17th-century traditional Japanese Tea House but also posing as means of space travel. Inspiration for the project came from Arthur C Clarke’s novel Fountains of Paradise in which the transportation of people and objects into space is made possible on a rigid metal ribbon. In her installation Netherworld of 2013, Shiraishi drew parallels between the many layers found in ancient Egyptian tombs and the cyclical life and death of stars and human cells, echoing the Ancient Egyptian belief that life implies death and death implies life.


Shiraishi has exhibited widely including the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Japan and her works are held in major public collections and museums around the world.  These include; Arts Council of Great Britain, British Museum, Government Art Collection, London; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield UK; Max Bill-George Vantongerloo Foundation, Zumikon, Switzerland; Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany; McCrory Corporation, New York, USA; Ludwig Muzeum, Budapest, Hungary; The National Museum of Art, Osaka; Ohara Museum, Kurashiki; Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan.