1121
1121
Kazuo Shiraga
CHITAISEI HONKŌSHIN
Estimate
Premium Lots
In order to bid on "Premium Lots" you must complete the required Premium Lot preregistration application and deliver to Sotheby's such necessary financial references, guarantees, deposits and/ or such other security as Sotheby's may in its absolute discretion require, as security for your bid. Sotheby's decision whether to accept any pre-registration application shall be final. We recommend you contact Sotheby's at least 3 working days prior to the relevant sale in order to process the pre-registration, and please bear in mind that we are unable to obtain financial references over weekends or public holidays. If all lots in the catalogue are "Premium Lots", a Special Notice will be included to this effect and the paddle symbol will not be used.
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
22,000,00032,000,000
LOT SOLD. 26,575,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
1121
Kazuo Shiraga
CHITAISEI HONKŌSHIN
Estimate
Premium Lots
In order to bid on "Premium Lots" you must complete the required Premium Lot preregistration application and deliver to Sotheby's such necessary financial references, guarantees, deposits and/ or such other security as Sotheby's may in its absolute discretion require, as security for your bid. Sotheby's decision whether to accept any pre-registration application shall be final. We recommend you contact Sotheby's at least 3 working days prior to the relevant sale in order to process the pre-registration, and please bear in mind that we are unable to obtain financial references over weekends or public holidays. If all lots in the catalogue are "Premium Lots", a Special Notice will be included to this effect and the paddle symbol will not be used.
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
22,000,00032,000,000
LOT SOLD. 26,575,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong

Kazuo Shiraga
1924 - 2008
CHITAISEI HONKŌSHIN
signed in Japanese and dated 1960.9; signed in English, titled in Japanese and English on the reverse
oil on canvas
130 by 162 cm.   51⅛ by 63¾ in.
 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Private Collection, Asia
Sotheby’s, Paris, 7 December 2010, Lot 26
Private Collection
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 5 April 2014, Lot 137
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

Literature

Toyoshina, Azumino Municipal Museum of Modern Art; Amagazaki Cultural Center; Yokosuka Museum of Art, Kazuo ShiragaPainting Born Out of Fighting, Japan 2009, p. 126

Catalogue Note

Like the heroic status of the characters in The Water Margin, Shiraga’s art relies on violence to achieve its full salience. For Shiraga, individual passion was not enough; heroic strength was the path to artistic victory.

Namiko Kunimoto 


Ferocious, primal, yet charged with electrifying grace, Kazuo Shiraga's Chitaisei Honkōshin hails from the artist’s most celebrated Water Margin series in which he titled his paintings after heroes in the 14th century Chinese epic The Water Margin (Japanese translation c. 1757). The exhilarating canvas writhes with savage tactility and fiery turbulence, exuding the astounding raw vigour and potent visceral violence that defines Shiraga’s oeuvre. Against background swipes of crimson, lacerations of deep burgundy and electric turquoise converge at thrilling points of intersection. The young Gutai master’s legendary feet-generated strokes thrash out a triumphant path of expression via impassioned collisions of body and paint: like no other artist before him, Shiraga’s performative abstractions are vehemently inspirited with movement—“not just the movement of his body […] but also the assertion of matter itself” (Ming Tiampo, “Not just beauty, but something horrible”, in Exh. Cat. Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino, New York, 2015, pp. 21-22).

Shiraga’s Water Margin series was his first series of work showcased in Europe; as his work gained an international audience, the artist gave his canvases Japanese names at the advice of Stadler and Tapié. He began the series in 1959 and completed the last painting in 2001; although he titled each painting after a hero from the legend, each work was not named nor identified as part of the series until it was completed – after its unique character had been fully revealed. In the Water Margin legend, 108 bandits rebelled against a corrupt emperor, fighting for justice in a thrilling and violent plot. The present work is named after the warrior Tong Meng’s star of destiny. Tong Meng, one of the Water Margin’s most ethical characters, was a hero of the 69th rank whose nickname was River Churning Clam. He was a salt trader who fought in the Liangshan navy, and was an excellent swimmer and boatman. It is perhaps because of the painting’s prominent blue section, evoking water quenching the churning red of the work’s lower register that Shiraga named it after Tong Meng. Executed with his feet by swinging his body from a rope hung from the ceiling, the sheer velocity of the painting confronts the viewer with a singular force that exceeds even that of the most gestural of Abstract Expressionist works. As Namiko Kunimoto observes, Shiraga’s Water Margin paintings “disavow their dependence on American abstract expressionism through a nominal allegiance with an Asian past that is simultaneously represented and occluded through the violence inherent in the bodily manifestation of the composition” (Namiko Kunimoto, “Shiraga Kazuo: The Hero and Concrete Violence”, 2013, p. 163).

While Shoichi Hirai attributes Shiraga’s interest in The Water Margin to exposure to the text at school (Ibid, p. 162), Kunimoto probes into the deeper significance of the legendary narrative for Shiraga and his art, observing that: “Shiraga’s compositions and his role as an artist were negotiated through narratives of the hero, where the hero’s status is defined by his bravery, noble deeds and physical prowess” (Ibid, p. 158). While his abstractions are not allegorical, “the indexical traces of his own body may mark a subtle metaphorical relationship to the hero[es] of the tale” (Ibid, p. 162). According to Kunimoto, Shiraga’s forays into the conjunction between heroism and art began during his early performance works, including the now canonical performance Challenging Mud (1955), in which Shiraga – dressed in a loincloth – threw himself into a heaped mass of stone, cement, sand and gravel and engaged in a violent battle with matter. In another performance, Dozo (1955), Shiraga built an outdoor structure made of ten red poles twenty-three feet tall in Ashiya. Kunimoto writes: “Armed and exposing his body […] Shiraga stood inside his tepee-like abode and began to hack at the red columns with broad swings of his axe. With each hit, wood chipped away, leaving white scars etched into the poles, endangering both the artist and the handful of nearby viewers” (Ibid, p. 158).

Kunimoto continues: “Like the heroic status of the characters in The Water Margin, Shiraga’s art relies on violence to achieve its full salience”. Shiraga’s unprecedented paradigm epitomized the mission of the post-war Gutai artists who, literally uniting ‘instrument’ (gu) with ‘body’ (tai), rose fearlessly from the rubble of post-Hiroshima Japan to advocate a reinvigorating philosophy of ‘concreteness’ in their war-torn country. By engaging with, and transcending, violence, Shiraga was able to “wrestl[e] with the demons that haunted him and his generation, at the same time opening the possibility of hope for the years ahead” (Ming Tiampo, op. cit., 2015, p. 23). Today the significance of Shiraga’s ground-breaking work is beginning to be understood by scholars and curators worldwide, and the extraordinary artist’s work is recognised as one of the leading voices of his generation.

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong