Archives: Esibizioni

2021 Shozo Shimamoto GRANDI OPERE, CIAC, Foligno, Italia

Curated by Italo Tomassoni

Centro Italiano Arte Contemporanea – CIAC | FOLIGNO
19th september 2021 > 1st may 2022


A wide-ranging retrospective dedicated to Japanese artist Shozo Shimamoto (1928 – 2013), curated by Italo Tomassoni, opens on 19 September at CIAC – Centro Italiano Arte Contemporanea in Foligno, and runs until 1 May 2022.

The “SHOZO SHIMAMOTO/GRANDI OPERE” exhibition takes place in collaboration with the Fondazione Morra di Napoli, supported by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Foligno, with the technical, logistic, and organizational assistance of the Associazione Shozo Shimamoto.
The exhibition offers a detailed and comprehensive review of the Japanese artist’s career, from his first innovative experiments in the 1950s up to the more momentous and spectacular of the last years. In the 1950s, Shimamoto worked largely in the East and especially in Japan, but by the new millennium, he was working mainly in the West, performing many of his actions. The dialectic between these two phases in his output occurs within a unique and extraordinary artistic process. In the 1950s, he began exploring a new concept (and practice) in painting, working with gesture and paint marks, which later evolved into the ‘happening’. In particular, “[t]he power of the mark, that Shimamoto endows with the most authentic meaning of his message, conditions the fluctuation of the paths of written signs that never appear “closed”, developing freely in space, on the other hand, in search of unexplored passages driven by their inner dynamism” (Italo Tomassoni, from the presentation in the catalogue). Nevertheless, the large-scale events of recent years go beyond marks on canvas, favouring a sizeable theatrical edifice with their own dramatic and expressive autonomy, and taking place in public as a unique aesthetic event. For Shimamoto, the work “offers itself to the experience of the artist and the public as though spread out over time, on the infinite horizontality of liquid and multiple spatial displacements” (Tomassoni, ibid).

After a period of inactivity due to Covid-19, the Foligno Centro Italiano Arte Contemporanea opens with an exhibition reflecting its global outlook through this retrospective of Shozo Shimamoto’s historically most significant works. The collection starts with Shimamoto’s earliest pieces from his time with the Gutai Group, moving on to Japanese calligraphy, and culminating with the explosions of colour that characterize his Italian works. The Grandi Opere chosen for this exhibition underline how Shimamoto’s most extraordinary creativity coincides with his use of large surfaces, a constitutive element in his work, denoting both total fullness and, at the same time, a boundary to be continually overcome using colour and matter.

Shimamoto’s large canvases on show at the CIAC take the viewer on a journey that starts with gesture and mark, moving on through colour and contending with matter until it penetrates the deepest and “other” meanings of form. Suspended between heaven and earth, Shimamoto’s artistic gesture creates through these works an empathy beyond time and space.

2019 Across the Borderlands of Art, Alien Art Centre, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Preface by Giuseppe Morra – President of the Associazione Shōzō Shimamoto

We worked together with Shōzō Shimamoto on the fertile humus of Campania where his poetics absorbed and moulded spaces of beauty, imbuing them with sounds and colours in dialogue with the past. A Samurai of colours, he reconfigured the crystallized symbols of beauty and the sacred, reinterpreting effigies of the Buddha, Psyche, Nike, and Venus through his painting, conveying a message of irenicism. The organic energy of the pictorial matter that erupts from the automatism of his calligraphic gesture is both a perceptive and an existential vitalism. In Piazza Dante, during the 2006 performance Un’Arma per la pace (“A Weapon for Peace”), Shimamoto pelted a huge canvas with coloured paints from a height of forty metres to the strains of Rombo di suono scintillante per Dante, Beatrice e Virgilio by Charlemagne Palestine.

The synergy of the two artists, centred entirely on the otherness of language, set in motion the possibility of a complex relationship with history, art and literature, opening up to an imagery far removed from the rulebound. For the works/event Tra Oriente e Occidente (“Between East and West”) (2008) Shimamoto performed in Naples, Capri, and Punta Campanella, probing their cultural stratifications. The dynamic expressiveness of the painting outlined actions through which echoed the millennial union between the peoples of East and West: the movement of sound and colour encountered the reality of the beauty of that setting. On the other hand, the artist created palpable forms of synaesthesia in the splendour of the garden of Saint James’ Charterhouse, as he hurled coloured paint at musical instruments and long canvases spread across the ground.

At Punta Campanella he bathed mannequins in colour – dancing brides, set in contrast with the iconic statues of art history. The innocence of the child’s gesture is a mnestic trace supporting the thrust of his actions in tune with the complexity of emotional life. When Shimamoto has the paint burst onto the white canvas, the creative process results in a theatricality that cancels out the separation between event and work. The individualistic ideology of the isolated creator and the fetishism of the work are defused, opening up to it the possibility of being in the world offering itself: a sophisticated means of achieving a sense of universal communion.

2018 Spazio Nel Tempo, Fondazione Sant’Elia, Palermo, Italia

Curated by Achille Bonito Oliva

Fondazione Sant’Elia | PALERMO
13th June > 6th August 2018

press conference
12th  June 2018 6pm
Palazzo Sant’Elia

– A colour without matter does not exist. When we are about to create, we do not throw away the brush; there is no hope of emancipating colours. Without the paintbrush the colourants will come to life for the first time. Any tool may be used to good effect in place of a paint brush: one’s bare hands or the paint spatula would be a start. To these we might add the objects that members of the Gutai group use, such as watering cans, umbrellas, vibrators, abaci, skates, and toys, not to mention feet, guns, or anything else. And amid all these, the paintbrush may even reappear, because there is certainly room for something from the past in innovative work like this.

Shozo Shimamoto / ‘Gutai’ Bulletin n.6, Ōsaka, 1957

In the mid-fifties, the Japanese artist Shozo Shimamoto [Osaka, 22nd January 1928 – 25th January 2013], began his adventure in the small city of Ashiya, producing a creative work in public; it was a garden where he and other artists carried out works of art consisting of performances where the work came into being before the eyes of the audience, with all the interference of a live event. Distancing themselves from the surrealist tradition and the influence of Duchamp, the Gutai group powerfully established themselves in terms of a new form of creativity centred around impulse.

Achille Bonito Oliva’s wide-ranging retrospective dedicated to the Japanese artist opens in Palermo at 6 pm on June 13th and runs until 6th August at the Fondazione Sant’Elia. The ‘SHOZO SHIMAMOTO/TIME RACK’ exhibition is a project by the Morra Foundation with the technical, logistic, and organisational support of the Shozo Shimamoto Association and the cooperation of the Fondazione Sant’Elia. A colour catalogue containing articles of particular historical and critical significance accompanies the exhibition, which offers an in-depth study of Shimamoto’s artistic career from his first innovative experiments in the 40s and 50s up to the performances of his last years. During the 1950s, Shimamoto spent his life in Japan – in the East – but he spent the first part of the twenty-first century mainly in the West, where he did his most important performances. The dialectic between these two periods points to an extraordinary, important, and single artistic process. During the 50s, Shimamoto began working as a painter, and, in his search for a new way of seeing and doing painting, he also began working on actions that would gradually transform into happenings. His work throughout his last years in Italy took quite the opposite direction: he used large-scale stage construction as an integral part of his performance, as reflected in the production of works that are the result of a public representative moment. ‘The aim is to expand the aesthetic space of the action as far as possible, encompassing both earth and sky. (…) Ultimately, Shimamoto is a nomadic samurai of art able to hit the mark thanks to the intelligent chance of a creative process seeking to pierce the inertia of the world and energise the community of men’, writes Achille Bonito Oliva.

The works on show at the Fondazione Sant’Elia, from Shimamoto’s early output with the Gutai group to the beautiful explosions of colour of the Campania period, are of great historical importance. The exhibition also brings his works on paper from the 1950s to the Italian public for the very first time. This retrospective dedicated to the works of Shozo Shimamoto is one of the high points of the many events organised as part of the Palermo Italian Capital of Culture 2018 programme.