Body and Matter, introduces the all too often insular New York art world to a legendary Japanese artist, Kazuo Shiraga (1924- 2008) whose bold abstractions are paired with the work of master ceramicist Satoru Hoshino.
Twenty three powerful paintings, produced from 1959 to 1999 highlight the artist’s distinctive ‘foot painting’ where Shiraga suspended his body from the ceiling and used his feet to paint energetic color infused images. From 1955 onwards, Shiraga incorporated performance into his work, as in his famous “Challenging Mud’ piece. Using his body, Shiraga aggressively manipulated and immersed himself into a mud mixture, which was then forcefully marked by his movements. This preceded both Allan Kaprow’s ‘Happenings” and Yves Klein’s famous Body Paintings. Shiraga embodied the vibrant avant garde spirit of the Kansai based Gutai movement. Japan’s most important post war avant-garde arts movement, the Gutai collective functioned for eighteen years, active in performance, sculpture, and painting. In 1971, Shiraga entered the Buddhist priesthood in a monastery near Kyoto.
Shiraga’s impasto layers of thick oil paint reference Japanese history, Chinese techniques and Buddhism. The balance of control results in startlingly exuberant and fearlessly colored abstractions.
For the first time, these paintings are exhibited with the smoked earthenware pieces of Satoru Hoshino., born in 1945. The abstract pedestal and wall ceramics echoes the artist’s total immersion in his medium. From his visible fingermarks to the velvety obsidian finish created by the smoking of clay, Hoshino allows the material to form and coil without traditional artistic intervention. Although these artists never met, they were well aware of each other’s work.
“Body and Matter” presents a provocative dialogue between two nearly contemporary artists who use transcendental gesture to explore their mediums. Shiraga and Hoshino are artists whose work echo with prescience and power.
Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino Dominique Levy New York City until April 4
Words: Ilka Scobie Artlyst New York Reviewer