Lot 137
  • 137


400,000 - 600,000 HKD
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  • Shimamoto Shozo
  • Magi 932
  • acrylic and glass on canvas
  • 160 by 130 cm; 63 by 51⅛ in.
signed in English and dated 2008 on the reverse


Private Collection, Europe
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 5 October 2015, lot 716
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner This work is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity issued by Associazione Shozo Shimamoto


Bologna, Museo d'arte Magi '900, I Colori della Pace: Shozo Shimamoto e Yasuo Sumi, 2008

Catalogue Note

Paint does not start to live until it is liberated from the brush. We need to revive the paint and let it live.

Shimamoto Shozo

Emancipation and Exuberance

Created in 2008, during Shimamoto Shozo’s landmark performance at the Museo Magi ‘900 in Bologna, Magi 932 is a representative archetype of the artist’s ground-breaking “bottle crash” paintings that drove forth a pivotal force in the post-war period. First performed in 1956 during the golden era of Gutai, Shimamoto’s theatrical technique went strides beyond the mere gestural application of the brush, and involved the artist using the full force of his body to hurl glass bottles full of coloured paint onto large canvases laid out on a hard surface. As the bottles shattered and burst, the explosions of paint created dazzling patterns of extraordinary vitality and vigour on the canvas. Magi 932 encapsulates the pinnacle of Shimamoto’s idiosyncratic technique, displaying dynamic and vivid rivulets of colour punctuated with scattered shards of glass that add a sculptural quality to the two-dimensional work. The abstract patterns of pigment and glass also act as vital traces of the artwork’s performative genesis.

Shimamoto’s spectacular antics in his iconic “bottle crash” works introduced pioneering notions into the arena of abstraction, including the elements of performance, action, automatism and chance. As early as 1959, Shimamoto was filmed in action by the BBC; and in 1993 the artist was invited to perform at the 45th Venice Biennale. Since 1999, the prefecture of Hyogo has held “bottle crash” rituals with the artist, and even in his late seventies, Shimamoto was being lifted by cranes to realise large-scale “bottle crash” performances in the Piazza Dante in Naples in 2006 – a testament to the enduring importance and historical significance of his trail-blazing legacy. Epitomizing creation via destruction and liberation via annihilation, Shimamoto’s bottle-crash paintings re-ignited the life and spirit of paint by injecting material with human spirit and action. In Gutai leader Yoshihara Jiro’s words, Shimamoto’s unique visual language was the first to make energy visible – “fix[ing] the explosive form [onto] the paint itself”.