Kazuo Shiraga 白髮一雄 | Untitled 無題
1924 - 2008
oil on canvas
signed in Japanese (lower right); signed Kazuo Shiraga and dated 1962 on the reverse
45.5 by 53 cm; 17⅞ by 20⅞ in.
executed in 1962
The work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Japan Art Dealers Association, dated 15 January 2014.
Kazuo Shiraga 1962（畫背）
45.5 x 53 cm; 17⅞ x 20⅞ in.
This work is in good overall condition as viewed. The work has not been inspected outside of its frame.
Evidence of craquelure on the upper left quadrant consistent with the artist's working method.
Upon close inspection, there is a hairline crack in the lower right quadrant and some minor dust accretion especially at areas of thicker impasto.
Examination under ultraviolet light reveals no signs of restoration.
Framed. Frame dimensions: 81 by 88.5 cm
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Private Collection (acquired from Whitestone Gallery, Japan, and sold: Christie's Hong Kong, 25 May 2019, Lot 21)
Private Asian Collection (acquired directly from the above sale)
"I want to paint as though rushing around on a battlefield, exerting myself to collapse from exhaustion" – Shiraga Kazuo
Ferocious, provocatively primal, yet charged with electrifying grace, Shiraga Kazuo’s Untitled hails from the artist’s critical early period of explosive dynamism and coincides with his historic inaugural solo exhibition outside Japan at Galerie Stadler in Paris in 1962. The exhilarating canvas heaves and writhes with savage tactility and fiery turbulence, exuding the astounding raw vigour and potent visceral violence that defines Shiraga’s oeuvre. The wrestling swirls of paint whirl in a pool of electric cerulean blue, complemented by masterful arcs of vermilion red crescendoing to the lush visceral splash of ink black that blooms at the core of the tornado of sublime. 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 momentous ascension to global fame dates back to humble beginnings. Originally trained in nihonga, traditional Japanese painting, the artist soon turned to oil, creating markings or scratchings with his fingers. Beginning with these early methods, Shiraga’s art form manifested as a gradual escalation in the exercise of abjuring the brush—a process of maturation that takes its final form in his celebrated foot paintings. In the early 1950s the artist shunned the orthodox artistic stance completely: fastening a rope to the ceiling, Shiraga swung himself acrobatically across horizontally placed canvases, using his feet and body to cast, heave, kick and swirl thick slabs and layers of paint.
This element of violence, embodied in the notion of impassioned struggle, is crucial to a proper understanding of Shiraga’s oeuvre. While Yves Klein also utilized the body as paintbrush in his Anthropometries works half a decade later, Shiraga’s art utilized his irreducible corporeality to battle with and awaken the raw vitality of matter itself, hence setting himself apart from the mere gesturality of Western Abstract Expressionism and forged an epochal revolutionary oeuvre in the contemporary art canon. Such 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.
The present work was created in 1962, a critical year during which Shiraga’s international career took flight. Following Tapié and painter Georges Mathieu’s visit to Osaka in 1957, the Galerie Stadler in Paris showed Shiraga’s paintings in a 1959 group show and in 1962 hosted the artist’s first solo exhibition outside Japan. In 1963, Shiraga participated in the Exposition d’art modern in Grand Palais, Paris, and in 1965 onwards in historic museum exhibitions such as Nul at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1965) and New Japanese Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Art (1965) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1967). Today the significance of Shiraga’s ground-breaking works are highly regarded and recognized by scholars and curators worldwide, and the artist is indisputably one of the leading voices of his generation.
《無題》源自白髮一雄早年創作力爆發的時期，在繪製本作的同年，巴黎施泰德畫廊為他舉行首個海外個人展覽，成為其藝術生涯的重要一頁。在本中，洶湧狂野的力量在畫布上激盪翻滾，噴發出震動人心的強大生命力和原始猛勢，盡顯藝術家作品特點。厚實豐潤的顏料在一池蔚藍的漩渦迴轉不斷，一弧弧鮮豔的朱紅色交織其中相映烘托，猛烈如龍捲風的動態終於畫作的核心釋放，那濃稠鬱蔥的墨黑色猶如一朵暴風中綻放的花朵，狂放且璀璨 。具體派畫家白髮一雄在當年青春正盛之時破天荒以足繪畫，用身軀力量與油彩碰撞交融，開闢了一種狂野的藝術表達方式。他的抽象藝術表演充滿激烈狂亂的動作——「不只是身體的動作 …… 物質亦隨之騷動起來」。（蔡宇鳴著，〈不只是美，還有恐懼〉，載於《身體與物質：白髮一雄與星野曉的藝術》展覽圖錄，紐約，2015年，頁21-22）
這種透過激情澎湃的掙扎而體現出來的暴力，是白髮一雄藝術中非常重要的一環。伊夫・克萊因（Yves Klein ）五年後亦在他的《人體測量學》中以身體取代畫筆作畫，而白髮一雄則以純粹的身體力量，對抗、喚醒物質內在的生命力。日本戰後具體派的理念在他的作品中得以完全地呈現——他將工具（「具」）與身體（「體」）結合，無懼地走出日本原爆後的頹垣廢墟，在戰火蹂躪過後的日本，宣揚「具體」的新生哲學，希望日本社會能夠重新振興。