Monday, March 23, 2015

Kazuo Shiraga, Ton

Kazuo Shiraga, Ton, 1999

Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2008) was a Japanese painter whose large abstract paintings incorporated elements of performance art.  Shiraga attended Kyoto City University of the Arts where he studied traditional Japanese painting, graduating in 1948.  He was inspired by western techniques and began to explore modernism and avant-garde.  His chosen method of paint application was to lay many different paints on a large canvas without shape or deliberation.  He would then hang from ropes suspended from the ceiling and move the paint with his feet.  This technique was very physical and exhausting, and produced works where we can see the presence of the artist and his body.  While he created other types of compositions as well, most of his pieces are in a similar vein of these large, abstract swirls.  He shows the chaotic grandeur of the universe and the intense motion of his pieces is palpable.  Ton is a beautiful example of Shiraga's work, showing that he continued the technique for his entire life.  This painting looks very natural to me, as though these are the swirls of a forest or a lake.  This is largely due to the palette, but there is also an organic quality that runs through Shiraga's paintings.  They have an immediacy and a presence that makes them very powerful and effective.

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