Shōzō Shimamoto


Gutai without Frontiers.
The Japanese artistic Avant/Garde in the Aftermath of second World War
Federica Franceschini

“At the end of the war, when I came down from the mountain where I had been allowed to go and rest during that long and catastrophic period, I found myself in my studio, surrounded by a group of art students, eager to spend whole evenings on end discussing the future of the new art until the first light of dawn… After several years frequently exchanging ideas, I started to find among my new companions such high-profile personalities as Shimamoto and Yamazaki … They were determined to free themselves of their “acquired skills” and, through experience and adventure, to discover a new space with more direct forms of expression.”
Jiro Yoshihara

In the Japanese painter Jiro Yoshihara’s words, it is easy to recognise the new enthusiasm and energy that animated cultural debate in Japan in the aftermath of the Second World War, and which were fundamental in the development of the idioms of the artistic avant-garde. The artists of this period found themselves facing a rapidly evolving society, characterised by profound social change and sudden exposure to greater opportunities and new freedom of expression. Japanese art was becoming increasingly aware of its own potential, and felt the need to gradually move away from western models that up to then had been the only route towards innovation. And so, a journey of daring experiment was under way, whose results made a precious contribution to the need for renewal, concerning, especially by the nineteen-fifties, the way the creative processes were understood, and which in effect formed the basis of everything that may be defined as contemporary in art today.

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