Shozo Shimamoto - profile

Shozo Shimamoto

Japan 1928 - 2013

Abstract Art, Gutai Group

Shozo Shimamoto
Shozo Shimamoto
October 17, 2015
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

Shozo Shimamoto was a Japanese artist, a co-founder of Gutai group and one of the most daring and independent experimentalists of the postwar. Born in Osaka, Japan in 1928, Shozo Shimamoto attended Kansui Gakuin University and graduated in 1950. The artist is best-known for his contributions to the influential Gutai Art Group and the development of the mail art movement. Gutai was the first radical, post-war artistic group in Japan, created around the idea of a relationship between body and matter in pursuit of originality. The group was involved in large-scale multimedia environments, performances, and theatrical events.

Shozo Shimamoto at the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition, in 1958

Shozo Shimamoto making a painting by hurling glass bottles of paint against a canvas at the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition, Ohara Kaikan, Tokyo
Shozo Shimamoto making a painting by hurling glass bottles of paint against a canvas at the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition, Ohara Kaikan, Tokyo

As a founding member of the Gutai movement, Shimamoto’s action-based painting style was seen as the Eastern, independently born reaction to important art movements in the post-war art scene in the United States, most famous of them being Jackson Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism. Shimamoto’s art is mainly ruled by the artist’s actions, gesture and chance. As an example of his work, Shozo Shimamoto’s Bottle Crash performances consisted of the artist smashing glass bottles full of paint against a ground of canvas to create a pulsating field of color.

Bottle Crash, 1999 (blue)

Shozo Shimamoto - Bottle Crash, 1999 (blue)
Shozo Shimamoto – Bottle Crash, 1999 (blue)

Shimamoto’s artworks are in a collection of several prominent art venues and museums, such as Tate Modern, London, Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, Venice, National Museum of Modern Art of Rome and Art Center of Milan in Italy, Mail Art Museum, Switzerland, Paris Gallery in France, and Tokyo Contemporary Art Museum and Osaka Contemporary Art Museum in Japan.

Art of Shozo Shimamoto

Left Shozo Shimamoto - Bottle Crash, 1997, Right Shozo Shimamoto - Performance in China 8, 2007
Left: Shozo Shimamoto – Bottle Crash, 1997 / Right: Shozo Shimamoto – Performance in China 8, 2007

The artist’s oeuvre has been featured in a number of important exhibitions dedicated to Gutai, including at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Jeu de Paume in Paris. In 1996, as a recognition of his important pacifist activities, Shimamoto was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Shozo Shimamoto died in 2013 in his hometown Osaka, aged 85.

Images copyright © the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015Group ShowDe Buck Gallery, New YorkGroup
2015Geometries On and Off the Grid: Art from 1950 to the PresentThe Warehouse, Dallas, TXGroup
2014Gutai - Scream of MatterWeGallery, BerlinGroup
2014Shozo ShimamotoWhitestone Gallery, TokyoSolo
2014Shozo ShimamotoElefante Gallery, Treviso, ItalySolo
2013Shozo Shimamoto - Memorial ExhibitionStudio Visconti, Milan, ItalySolo
2013Shozo Shimamoto - Malerei und Geste - Die Materie der AktionenGalerie Hofburg, Brixen, ItalySolo
2013Memorial Event Shozo-ismHotel Novotel Koshien, Osaka, JapanSolo
2013Jim Hodges: Give More Than You TakeDallas Museum of Art, Dallas, United StatesGroup
2013Gutai: Splendid PlaygroundGuggenheim Museum, New York, United StatesGroup
2013Gutai & Shozo ShimamotoEver Gold Gallery, San Francisco, United StatesGroup
2013Gutai: Experimental Exhibition of Modern Art to Challenge the Mid-Winter Burning Sun - Gutai Historical Survey and Contemporary ResponseWalter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute United StatesGroup
2013Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, United StatesGroup
2013New Neon: Light, Paint and PhotographyBedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, California, United States of AmericaGroup
2012Shozo ShimamotoAxel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp, BelgiumSolo
2012Painting the VoidMoCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2012Gutai: The Spirit of an EraNational Art Center, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2012A Visual Essay on GutaiHauser & Wirth, New York, United States of AmericaGroup
2012Explosion: Painting as ActionModerna Museet, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2011Shozo ShimamotoBasilica di Santo Stefano, Bologna, ItalySolo
2011Shozo Shimamoto, kamikaze del coloreNicola Pedana Arte Contemporanea, Caserta, ItalySolo
2011Shozo ShimamotoFondazione Morra, Napoli, ItalySolo
2011Shozo Shimamoto, Opere 1950-2011. Oriente e Occidente. East and WestPalazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia, ItalySolo
2011An Experimental Conference on Art and Science to Challenge the Mid-Summer SunModerna Museet, Stockholm, SwedenGroup
2010Gutai : Painting with Time and SpaceMuseo Cantonale d’Arte e Parco Civico, Lugano, ItalyGroup
2009Shozo Shimamoto. La pittura è la durata dell’azione. 1950-2008Galleria Hofficiana d’Arte, Roma, ItalySolo
2009Shozo ShimamotoGallery Caso, Osaka, JapanSolo
2009La danza del coloreGalleria VV8 artecontemporanea, Reggio Emilia, ItalySolo
2009Cose mai viste IIPalazzo Barberini, Rome, ItalyGroup
200953. Esposizione Internazionale d’ArteVenice Biennial, Venice, ItalyGroup
2009In-FinitumPalazzo Fortuny, Venice, ItalyGroup
2009Madre Coraggio: l’ArteVilla Rufolo, Ravello, ItalyGroup
2008PerformanceFondazione Morra, Napoli, ItalySolo
2008PerformancePunta Campanella, Sorento, ItalySolo
2008PerformanceVilla Bersani, Capri, ItalySolo
2008Shozo Shimamoto and Yasuo Sumi – I colori della paceMuseo Magi ‘900, Pive di Cento, ItalyDuo
2008Shozo Shimamoto. Samurai, acrobata dello sguardoMuseuo d’Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genova, ItalySolo
2008Vento d’OrienteCertosa di San Giacomo, Capri, ItalyGroup
2007Shozo Shimamoto: Action Colors 1950-2006Galleria Carini & Donatini, Arezzo, ItalySolo
2007Felissimo White ProjectFashion Museum, Kobe, JapanGroup
2007FelissimoHyogo Prefectural Diplomatic Establishment, Hyogo, JapanGroup
2007Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar JapanThe Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2007Bottle Crash performanceChiostro di San Nicolò, Venice Biennial, Venice, ItalyGroup
2007Art Challenged ProjectBejing, ChinaGroup
2007Artempo: Where Time Becomes ArtPalazzo Fortuny, Venice, ItalyGroup
2006Shozo Shimamoto. Opere anni ’50-’90Fondazione Mora, Napoli, ItalySolo
2006A Weapon of PeacePiazza Dante, Napoli, ItalySolo
2006PerformanceChang Xing, Bejing, ChinaSolo
2006ZERO. Internationale Künstler-Avant-garde der 50er-60er JahreMuseum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany Group
2005PerformanceFlash Art Museum, Trevi, ItalySolo
2005Shozo ShimamotoL’Atelier 25, Reggio Emilia, ItalySolo
2005Senza ConfineGalleria Continua, San Gimignano, ItalyGroup
2005Un cuscino per rognarePalazzo Casotti, Reggio Emilia, ItalyGroup
2005Gutai e AU in ItaliaGalleria Spazio Fiscio, Modena, ItalyGroup
2004Shozo Shimamoto dal Gutai a Proxima 1955-2004Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna Ca’Pesaro, Venice, ItalySolo
2004Gutai 1954-1972Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe, JapanGroup
2004Traces. Body and Idea in Contemporary ArtThe National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, JapanGroup
200350. Esposizione Internazionale d’ArteVenice Biennial, Venice, ItalyGroup
2003Skin Deep. Il corpo come luogo del segno artisticoMuseo di Arte Contemporanea - MART, Trento, ItalyGroup
2002Who’s Norma Jeane?Galleria Primrose, London, UKGroup
2002Artists of Gutai AssociationThe Miyagi Museum of Art, Sendai, Miyagi, JapanGroup
1999Hiroshima – performanceAmagasaki, JapanSolo
1999Shozo ShimamotoFondazione Europea Alberto Cravanzola, Milan Solo
1999GutaiGalerie Nationale de Jeu de Paume, Paris, FranceGroup
1999XLVIII Mostra Internazionale d’ArteVenice Biennial, Venice, ItalyGroup
1998Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Objects: 1949-1979Museum of Contemporary Art MoCA, Los Angeles, USAGroup
1997Shozo Shimamoto. Gutai worksHundertmark Gallery, Cologne, GermanySolo
1997Torino Parigi New York Osaka. Tapié. Un Art AutreGalleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Torino, Italy Group
1994Japanese Art after 1945: Scream against the SkyYokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan Group
1993Gutai II: 1959-1965Ashiya City Museum of Art and History, Ashiya, JapanGroup
1993Gutai III: 1965-1972Ashiya City Museum of Art and History, Ashiya, JapanGroup
1993Passaggio a OrienteXLV Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Venice Biennial, Venice, ItalyGroup
1993Challenge of Art after the War : Jiro Yoshihara and the Gutai GroupMuseum of Art, Ehime, JapanGroup
1993Gutai 1955-1956: A Restarting Point in Japanese Contemporary ArtPenrose Institute, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1992Artists of Gutai Art AssociationThe Miyagi Museum of Art, Sendai, Miyagi, JapanGroup
1992Gutai I: 1954-1958Ashiya City Museum of Art and History, Ashiya, JapanGroup
1992Outdoor Exhibition 1955, 1956Ashiya City Museum of Art and History, Ashiya, JapanGroup
1991Gutai Japanische Avantgarde 1954-1965Institude Mathildenhohe, Damstadt, GermanyGroup
1991Adverntures of Paintings GutaiFukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, JapanGroup
1990Gutai: The Avant-Garde Group UnfinishedShoto Museum of Art, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1990Giappone all’avanguardia. Il Gruppo Gutai negli anni cinquantaGalleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, ItalyGroup
1987Performance on the occasion of Marcel Duchamp’s birthDallas, USASolo
1986Japon des Avant-Gardes 1910-1970Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FranceGroup
1985Jiro Yoshihara and Gutai 1954-1972Ashiya Civic Center, Ashiya, JapanGroup
1985Action and Emotion, Paintings of the 1950’s - Informel, Gutai, CobraNational Museum of Art, OsakaGroup
1985Reconstruction: Avant-Garde Art in Japan 1945-1965Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UKGroup
1985Grupo Gutai: Pintura y AccionMuseo de Arte Contemporaneo Español, Madrid, SpainGroup
1984PerformanceHundertmark Gallery, Cologne, GermanySolo
1982Toward the Museum of Tomorrow – Live Art TheatreHyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe, JapanGroup
19826 Artists of GutaiMunicipal Art Gallery, Itami, JapanGroup
1981Shozo ShimamotoCenter Contemporary Art, Osaka, JapanSolo
1981Directions in Post-War I – The 1950’s – Gloom and Shafts in LightMuseum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1979World Symposium Invitation ShowAlberta, CanadaGroup
1979Jiro Yoshihara and Today’s Aspects of GutaiHyogu Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe, JapanGroup
1979Hansetouchi Modern Art ExhibitionOkayama, JapanGroup
1979Hiroshima RenaissanceHiroshima, JapanGroup
1978File & LifeTokyo Museum, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1978Today’s ArtKitakiushu Museum, Kitakiushu, JapanGroup
1978Art 78 Stouchi ExhibitionEhime prefecture, Ehime, JapanGroup
1977What are you doing now?Tokyo Museum, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1976Today’s Notion of SpaceMunicipal Gallery of Art, Yokohama, JapanGroup
1976Japan NowKaplikon Gallery, Embassy Gallery, San Francisco, USAGroup
1976Eighteen Years of Gutai ArtPrefectural Gallery, Osaka, JapanGroup
1975Artists’ Union GroupTokyo and Osaka, Japan, and San Francisco, USAGroup
1973PerformanceImai Gallery, Osaka, JapanSolo
1973PerformanceShunju-kan Gallery, Osaka, JapanSolo
1973PerformanceShinibashi Gallery, Osaka, JapanSolo
1973PerformanceModern Craft Gallery, Osaka, JapanSolo
1972PerformanceGaleria Sobrad, Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
1972PerformanceMuramatsu Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1972Seventeen Years of Gutai ArtGutai Mini Pinacotheca, Nakanoshima, Osaka, JapanGroup
1971PerformanceClub Arrow, Osaka, JapanSolo
1971Shozo ShimamotoSony Building, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1970Japan Expo ’70-Garden on GardenExpo Museum, Osaka, JapanGroup
1970An Exhibition of Prints by Eight ArtistsIteza Gallery, Kyoto, JapanGroup
1969IX Contemporary Japanese Art ExhibitionMuseum of the City, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1968Shimbun Peace Price Art ExhibitionDepartment Store Daimaru, Kobe, JapanGroup
1968The 20th Gutai Art ExhibitionGutai Pinacotheca, Osaka, JapanGroup
1968The 21st Gutai Art ExhibitionGutai Pinacotheca, Osaka, JapanGroup
1968Contemporary Art Exhibition Only in the NightMiyazaki Kanko Hotel, Miyazaki, JapanGroup
1967Gutai Art Exhibition in AustriaHeide Hildebrand Gallery, Klagenfurt, AustriaGroup
1967The 18th Gutai Art ExhibitionGutai Pinacotheca, Osaka, JapanGroup
1967The 4th Summer FestivalFestival Hall, Osaka, JapanGroup
1967The 19th Gutai Art ExhibitionCentral Museum, Tokyo and Gutai Pinacotheca, Osaka, JapanGroup
1966NUL 66. Nul Negentienhonderd Zes en ZestigGalerij Olez, The Hague, The NetherlandsGroup
1966II Salon International des Galeries Pilotes LausanneMusée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Palais de Rumine, Lausanne, SwitzerlandGroup
1966The 17th Gutai Art ExhibitionDepartment Store Takashimaya, Yokohama, JapanGroup
1965NUL 65. Nul Negentienhonderd Vijf en ZestigStedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
1965The 15th Gutai Art ExhibitionGutai Pinacotheca, Osaka, JapanGroup
1965The 16th Gutai Art ExhibitionDepartment Store Keio, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1965Groupe Gutai-Gutai Art Exhibition in ParisGalerie Stadler, Paris, FranceGroup
1964The 14th Gutai Art ExhibitionDepartment Store Takashimaya, Osaka, JapanGroup
1963The 12th Gutai Art ExhibitionDepartment Store Takashimaya, Osaka, JapanGroup
1963The 13th Gutai Art ExhibitionDepartment Store Takashimaya, Osaka, JapanGroup
1962Shozo ShimamotoGutai Pinacotheca, Osaka, JapanSolo
1962The 11th Gutai Art ExhibitionDepartment Store Takashimaya, Osaka, JapanGroup
1962Don’t Worry, the Moon Won’t Fall Down: Gutai art and Moderita modern danceSankei Hall, Osaka, JapanGroup
1961Performancethe Gutai Pinacotheca, Osaka, JapanSolo
1961Continuité et avant-garde au JaponInternational Center of Aesthetic Research, Torino, ItalyGroup
1961The 10th Gutai Art ExhbitionDepartment Store Takashimaya, Osaka, JapanGroup
1960International Sky Festival (The 9th Gutai Art Exhbition)Department Store Takashimaya, Osaka, JapanGroup
1959Arte Nuova: Esposizione Internazionale di Pittura NuovaPalazzo Graneri della Roccia, Torino, ItalyGroup
1959The 7th Gutai Art ExhibitionGalleria Arti Figurative, Torino, ItalyGroup
1959The 8th Gutai Art ExhbitionMunicipal Museum of Art, Kyoto, JapanGroup
1959Fifteen Japanese Contemporary Artists recommended by TapiéGendai Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1958Gutai Art on StageAsahi Hall, Osaka, JapanGroup
1958The International Art of a New Era: Informel and GutaiDepartment Sotre Takashimaya, Osaka, JapanGroup
1957The 3rd Gutai Art ExhibitionMunicipal Museum of Art, Kyoto, JapanGroup
1957Gutai Art on the StageSankei Hall, Osaka and Tokyo, JapanGroup
1957The 4th Gutai Art ExhibitionOhara Hall, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1957International Contemporary Art Exhibition of the WorldBridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo Group
1956Performance of the Gutai groupRefinery Yoshihara Oil Mill, Nishinomija, JapanGroup
1956One-Day-Only-Outdoor ExhibitionMukogawa River, Amagasaki, JapanGroup
1956Outdoor Gutai Art ExhbitionAshiya Park, Ashiya, JapanGroup
1956The 2nd Gutai Art ExhibitionOhara Hall, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1955Seventh Exhibition of the Independent YomiuriMetropolitan Museum, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1955Experimental Outdoor Exhibition of Modern Art to Challenge the Mid-Summer SunAshiya Park, Ashiya, JapanGroup
1955The 1st Gutai ExhibitionOhara Hall, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1953Kansai Art ExhibitionKansai, JapanGroup
1953The 1st Genbi ExhibitionAsahi Biru Gallery, Kobe, JapanGroup
1948Seven Avant-Garde ArtistsDepartment Store, Kinetsu, JapanGroup