Gutai Artist Re-Examined: Dr. Namiko Kunimoto’s Article on Shiraga Kazuo


Shiraga Kazuo, Wild Boar Hunting II, 1963. Boar hide, wood plank, and oil paint, The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Kobe.

This year is shaping up to deliver incredible advancement in field of postwar Japanese art. AU’s own Dr. Namiko Kunimoto has published the latest addition to the literature on the dynamic Gutai Art Association with in her article, “Shiraga Kazuo: The Hero and Concrete Violence”, in this month’s volume of Art History. The article’s central figure, Shiraga Kazuo (1924-2008) who is often compared to the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, created large-scale action paintings in paint and mud with his body (primarily employing his bare feet). Typically, scholarship has treated Gutai artists with levity, suggesting that Shiraga’s works were merely a playful exercise in spectacle. Dr. Kunimoto seeks to rectify such dismissive oversight by examining the more serious conceptual aspects of Shiraga’s work, namely, his concerns with selfhood, masculinity, and violence, which were caught up in postwar nationalist structures. Works such as Wild Boar Hunting II (1963)—a bloody-looking composition (painted on actual boar hide) that suggests slashed entrails—express a concern for the darker moments of the masculine hero. Branding the artist’s performances with intention, Dr. Kunimoto states, “Shiraga’s strategic performances revealed that art might be used to question what the state could be, and what role the artist-hero might have within that field, just as his violent actions moulded and shaped his own body into one that enacted and idealized the trope of the masculine artist hero.”

Read the full article here:

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