Shiraga’s “foot paintings” exhibited at Mnuchin Gallery

Gutai artists, particularly Kazuo Shiraga, have been all over the art gallery world this year. Mnuchin Gallery jumps on this bandwagon with its latest exhibition of major paintings by Shiraga, tracing the evolution of his renowned “foot paintings.” The exhibition showcases eighteen such works spanning more than four decades, from 1959 to 2001.

The postwar avant-garde group’s member rose to prominence through his method of painting only with his feet, sometimes suspending himself from the ceiling to do so. This fresh and direct mode of expression was a protest against Japan’s wartime militarism, and a method of getting back to the elementals of art. The resulting works are rich and textured with a vigorous energy. With the element of performance embedded in his foot paintings, and through temporal works such as Challenging Mud (1955), Shiraga and the rest of the Gutai Group anticipated the later performance and conceptual art of the 1960s.

This exhibition is also accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue authored by noted Gutai scholar Dr. Ming Tiampo, Associate Professor of Art History at Carleton University, with an introduction by Dr Reiko Tomii, independent art historian and curator.

Kazuo Shiraga, Zuisohen [Auspicious Sign] (1986). Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

Shiraga_Chimosei Hakujitsuso_2001
Kazuo Shiraga, Chimosei Hakujitsuso [Daylight Rat incarnated from
Earthly Wasted Star] (2001). Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

Shiraga_Gusoku Jintsuriki_1982
Kazuo Shiraga, Gusoku Jintsuriki [Armed with Divine
Power] (1982). Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

Courtesy Mnuchin Gallery. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

by Louise Lui

The exhibition runs from February 10 until April 11, 2015 at Mnuchin Gallery
45 East 78th Street, New York NY 10075

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