Starting with the early works of the 1950s, the exhibition will then continue with the works most associated with the Gutai movement – 1958-1962 – in order to bring out the various changes and developments in the Shimamoto’s artistic language.
It then passes on to highlight the full rigour of the works on paper produced in the 1980s, and the performance and installation art of the 1990s (illustrated thanks to videos and works derived from those installations).
The latest phase in Shimamoto’s career sees him working together with various groups and collectives of artists at an international level. One such collaboration is with Proxima (a group of four Japanese and five Italian artists), whose output is illustrated in the exhibition by a special DVD produced for the occasion by Chise Mishima (with the Studio Samengo) and by a collective work that marks the culmination of the show.
Shozo Shimamoto is one of the most significant figures in the artistic revolution of the post-war period, which in the USA was exemplified by the likes of Jackson Pollock and John Cage, and in Europe by such figures as Lucio Fontana. As various important studies have already revealed, in Shimamoto as in these three artists ‘action painting’ predominates. At one and the same time in the post-war period, each of them in their own individual way felt the need to move beyond the barrier of the canvas, to capture the performative act of art, the very violence of chance.
A leading figure in the magmatic movement, Gutai, Shimamoto would then in the 70s go even further towards a total vision of man-as-artist, combining performance art, body art, attitudinal poetry and mail art with social commitment (particularly in the area of pacifism). However, in all this he was far from assuming a position as a sacred cow of the avant-garde (even if he did play a leading role in it at a world level).