Profil: Shozo Shimamoto
(1928 Born in Osaka, Japan)
1947 Became interested in art and attended the studio of Jiro Yoshihara, where he produced his first works, Ana (Holes).
1948 Together with other young artists close to master Yoshihara he took part in an exhibition called "Seven Avant-garde Artists" held at the Kintetsu department store in Osaka.
1950 Graduates from the Kansai Gakuin University.
1953 Won the Asahi Award at the Kansai art exhibition and the Association Award at the Association of Modern Art Exhibition. Takes part in the "First Exhibition of the Genbi Group", the movement founded by Muramatsu Hiroshi but of which Yoshihara is the true driving force. The event, held at the Asahi Biru Gallery in Kobe brought together the group of young artists who were soon to found the Gutai Group.
1954 Under Yoshihara's guidance, Shimamoto and the master’s other students found the Gutai Movement of Concrete Art. The name was Shimamoto's suggestion. He put his house at their disposal, and it became the official headquarters of the group. The "Gutai" bulletin, the official Association review was printed here.
1955 The first "Gutai" bulletin is printed: it contains some illustrations of works by the artists of the group, including one by Shimamoto. The members of Gutai, after joining forces with the members of the Zero Group (Tanaka, Shiraga, Murakami, Kanayama), take part in the "Seventh Exhibition of the Independent Yomiuri", an event that the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum held each year to give young artists an audience. On this occasion their works are signed Gutai. During the “First Open Air Exhibition of Modern Art: to challenge the mid-summer sun”, the first independent meeting of the Gutai Group held in the Ashiya pine wood, Shimamoto exhibits a metal sheet with small perforations, painted white on one side and blue on the other. In the evening a lamp illuminated the sheet from behind creating an effect similar to that of a starry sky. In the same year, Shimamoto takes part in the “First Gutai Exhibition” held indoors, at Ohara Kaikan in Tokyo: for the occasion he presents the work Please, walk on this made up of a series of wooden boards on a system of springs that make it difficult to walk on. The artist will go on to produce various reconstructions of this work in the nineties.
1956 On the occasion of the "Second Open Air Exhibition of Modern Art", Shimamoto puts on Performance of Destruction where he experiments with a new technique: shooting little bags full of paint from a cannon to a musical background. In October 1956, the Gutai Group holds a second exhibition at Ohara Kaikan in Tokyo: Shimamoto places a huge canvas on the floor. In the centre he places a rock, against which he throws bottles with different coloured pigment inside. This is the first bottle crash experiment using a technique which will significantly affect his future work. “Life” magazine does a cover story on Shimamoto.
1957 Takes part in the first “Gutai Art on the Stage" exhibition at the Sankei Center in Osaka: here he presents his pioneering video and sound works. Involved in the “First exhibition of young Asahi talent” at the Takashimaya department store in Osaka.
1958 At the second “Gutai Art on the Stage” exhibition at the Asahi Kaikan, he projects two different films made by himself on the same screen. This is what he said about it: “For this event I decided to do something called ‘the movie never seen all over the world”. He drew points and lines on a used 35 mm film given to him by a former pupil of his, washed in vinegar by Shimamoto himself. The second evening of "Gutai Art on the Stage" was part of the International Festival of Osaka, an event which included the “International Art in a New Era. Informal and Gutai” exhibition at the Takashimaya department store. Here the Gutai Group strengthened its links with the French critic Michel Tapié, whom they had met the previous year when he visited Japan accompanied by the artist Georges Mathieu.
1959 The BBC film him at Toyosaki School as he works on an action painting consisting in throwing glass bottles filled with paint. An event called “Arte Nuova” is held in Palazzo Granieri at the Turin International Festival. Around a hundred works by European, American and Japanese artists (Gutai and Informal) are displayed.
1960 Takes part in the “International Sky Festival” on the roof of the Takashimaya department store in Osaka.
1961 An exhibition organised by Tapié, “Continuité et avant-garde au Japon" is held at the International Center of Aesthetic Research in Turin.
1962 Shimamoto holds his first solo exhibition at the Gutai Art Gallery, opened that September in Osaka.
1965 Takes part in the "Nul Negentienhonderd vijf en Zegtig" exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
1966 Takes part in the "II Salon International des galeries pilotes” at the Musée cantonal des Beaux Arts in Lausanne, Switzerland.
1969 Takes part in the "IX Exhibition d'art japonais contemporain" at the Tokyo Museum.
1972 Two solo exhibitions: at the Galeria Sobrad in São Paulo and at the Muramatsu in Tokyo. The Gutai Group breaks up upon the death of Yoshihara. Shimamoto takes an interest in Mail Art.
1975- 1976 Takes part in the activities of the Artists' Union Group, and is elected secretary general, becoming one of the chief representatives of mail art and developing a new and highly personal conception of man as artist and of work as the product of a social and collective enterprise which manifests itself in a specific project. Every time Shimamoto meets an important artist or political figure, he invites him to write, draw, and place objects on his shaved head, capturing the action on camera. Goes on show in Tokyo, Osaka and San Francisco.
1976 Takes part in "Today’s Notion of Space" exhibition at the Yokohama Municipal Gallery of Art and the retrospective "18 years of Gutai art” at the Osaka Prefecture Art Gallery. Creates a road made up of 10,000 sheets of newspaper on the banks of the River Mukogawa.
1979 Exhibits 10,000 daily papers at the "World Symposium Invitation Show" in Alberta, Canada. Part of the "After Yoshihara and the Gutai" collective at the Kobe Museum of Modern Art.
1981 One man show organised for Shimamoto at the Osaka Art Centre. In the same year he exhibits at "Directions in Japanese Art 1 - The 50's - Darkness and Rays of Light" at the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art.
1982 "Towards the Museum of tomorrow - The Theatre of Living Art" at the Kobe Museum of Modern Art.
1983 Elected mayor of the Ryujin International Art Village. "6 Gutai artists/Artists' Union" exhibition with five other artists at the Itami Municipal Art Gallery.
1984 Performance at the Hundertmark Gallery in Cologne.
1985 On show at Ashiya and Osaka. Goes to Oxford for the retrospective "Reconstructions: Avant-Garde Art in Japan 1945-1965" at the Museum of Modern Art. Also in 1985 invited to Madrid for the "Gutai Group: Pintura y Acción" exhibition held at the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art, and then on to Belgrade at the Muszej Savremene Umetnosti and Kobe at the Museum of Modern Art.
1986 For the "First Osaka Sister-City Festival" Shimamoto invites Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, the leading Italian mail artist.
1990 The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, for the opening of the "Giappone all'avanguardia. II Gruppo Gutai negli anni Cinquanta" exhibition, invites Shimamoto to reproduce his 1956 performance done at the "Second exhibition at the Ohara Kaikan" in Tokyo, adding new meanings connected with the philosophy of the Network. Shimamoto invites postal artists to send him small objects to put inside small bottles filled with paint. The large canvas is inspired by the Network, and comprises paint, grains of rice, shells, sand, and other similar materials.
1991 Invited to take part in the "Gutai Japanische Avantgarde 1954-1965" exhibition organised by the Institut Mathildenhohe in Darmstadt, contributing ten large-scale works. A photo of one of his performances is published in "Flash Art International".
1992 Becomes president of the association of handicapped artists, setting up the first large-scale project for exhibitions by handicapped artists. Interviewed for the most important Japanese newspaper "Mainichi Shinbun" by President Kennedy’s sister.
1993 Invited to the 45th Venice Biennial as a member of Gutai. Performs a bottle crash.
1994 On show at the exhibition organised by Alexandra Munroe: "Japanese Art after 1945: scream against the sky" held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
1997 Solo exhibition with a performance: "Shozo Shimamoto, Gutai-Works" at the Hundertmark Gallery in Cologne. The only Japanese artist to have his photograph included in Art History published by American Albums.
1998 For "Out of Actions: Between performance and the Object, 1949-1979", organised at the Museum of Contemporary Art-MoCA in Los Angeles, his work Holes dating back to 1950 is chosen to be displayed in the same room as Pollock, Cage and Fontana. The exhibition then travelled to Vienna, at the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, then on to Barcelona at the Museu d'Art Contemporani and the Tokyo City Museum of Art.
1999 Invited again to the Venice Biennial, on show in the Japanese pavilion with David Bowie and Yoko Ono. In Verona and Milan for the "Show Shimamoto Italian Festival": displayed works from the fifties and sixties, large-scale installations and documentation on mail art. At the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, a retrospective "Gutai" collective.
2000 A large-scale performance in France, sponsored by the Felissimo Museum, creating an enormous surface out of sheets of newspaper from all over the world which he strikes with balloons filled with paint thrown from a hot air balloon. One of the works produced during the performance is displayed at the Unesco Head Office in Paris. The Nishinomiya Yacht Harbour hosts the beginning of the work entitled A Proof of Peace, which will be a monument on the site for 100 years.
2001 Invited to the London "Japan Year". Some of his works are purchased by the Tate Modern. Takes part in the exhibition "Le Tribù dell'Arte" by Achille Bonito Oliva at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome.
2002 Takes part in the artistic event "Who's Norma Jeane?" organised by the Primrose Gallery, London.
2003 Invited to the 50th Venice Biennial presenting the Brain Academy Apartment International Project. Again in Italy he takes part in "Skin Deep" at the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea - MART, in Rovereto and at the "Living Theatre/Labirinti dell'Immaginario by Lorenzo Mango and Giuseppe Morra at Castel Sant'Elmo, Naples.
2004 Performance with a helicopter, organised by our Association, “Association bbcc Onlus (ABCOnlus)” and was organized by the architect Luigi de Marchi,as a pre-event prior to the 2005 Venice Biennial. Solo exhibition at the Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Mauro Pesaro in Venice where he does a performance entitled Nyotaku.
2000 For the second time in Italy he does a performance in Trevi where he throws paint from a helicopter, and a solo exhibition is dedicated to him at the Flash Art Museum, organised by Guglielmo di Mauro. Solo exhibition in May at Atelier 25 in Reggio Emilia, together with the Associazione Pari & Dispari. Takes part in the exhibition "Un cuscino per sognare" promoted by the Reggio Emilia City Council in cooperation with the Archivio Pari & Dispari, then at Palazzo Casotti with Nano Art, the smallest work of art in the world, on the hairs of a toothbrush. Participates in two exhibitions: "Senza Confine" at the Galleria Continua in San Gimignano, and "Gutai e AU" at the Spazio Fisico gallery in Modena.
2006 Invited to show ten of his works and two reconstructions of Please, walk on here at the "Zero. Avant-garde Internationale des années 1950-60" collective, then at the Kunst Palast Museum in Düsseldorf and later at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Saint Etienne. Naples: in the historical Piazza Dante, the event-performance A weapon of Peace: lifted into the air by a crane he holds a small sphere full of coloured paint that he throws onto the canvas with a seraphic gesture. The action is accompanied by the music of Charlemagne Palestine. The performance is followed by the "Shozo Shimamoto. Opere anni '50-'90" exhibition at the Fondazione Morra. Invited by the Chinese Government to hold performances in Beijing and Chang Xing.
2007 He shows forty works dating from the Gutai period up to the present day at the "Shozo Shimamoto: Action Colors 1950-2006" exhibition at the Pier Giuseppe Carini Gallery in San Giovanni Valdarno. Kobe Fashion Museum: the Felissimo WHITE PROJECT performance. The works created are displayed at the Hyogo Prefectural Diplomatic Establishment and at the Kobe Fashion Museum. P3 Project for the Venice Biennial; Bottle Crash performance at the cloister of San Nicolò, organized in collaboration with the architect Luigi de Marchi president of “ABCOnlus”. Involved in the organisation of an event in Beijing: "Art Challenged Project", with a number of disabled artists from Japan. A few of his more representative works displayed at the collective "Artempo" organised by Mattijs Visser and Axel Vervoordt at the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice.
2008 On 7 May he does a performance at Punta Campanella, Naples, involving a group of dancers dressed as brides with their heads covered with glasses full of paint. On 9 May he does a performance in the cloister of the Certosa di San Giacomo on Capri throwing paint onto eight canvases stretched out on the ground and two double basses beside them, covered in music scores and held up by two young women. Again at the Certosa di San Giacomo on Capri he exhibits a number of his works at the exhibition "Vento d'Oriente". At Museo Magi ‘900 in Pieve Di Cento (BO): Shozo Shimamoto/Yasuo Sumi - Colours of Peace, with a performance in the Modigliani room at the Museum. 13 November 2008 at the Museo d' Arte Contemporanea at Villa Croce, Genoa.“Shozo Shimamoto. Samurai, acrobata dello sguardo”, by Achille Bonito Oliva.
2009 For Roma. Road to Contemporary Art: two works in different exhibitions: - Hofficina d’Arte, by Achille Bonito Oliva; - Palazzo Barberini, “Cose mai viste II” by Achille Bonito Oliva, dedicated to works from the artists' private collections. - Palazzo delle Esposizioni, with the Fondazione Morra, the Archivio Pari & Dispari and the Associazione Shozo Shimamoto. Collective exhibition “Madre Coraggio: l’arte” by Achille Bonito Oliva as part of the Ravello Festival. Solo exhibition at the “VV8 arte contemporanea” Gallery in Reggio Emilia, in cooperation with the Associazione Shozo Shimamoto, entitled “La danza del colore”, with a performance by the choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti and four dancers from the Fondazione Nazionale di Danza Aterballetto who bring to life the wedding dresses made by Shimamoto for the action in Punta Campanella.
2011 Sculptures and large canvases from the performances in Venice, Punta Campanella, Capri and Genoa displayed at the Basilica of Santo Stefano in Bologna for Arte Fiera OFF in an exhibition organised by Achille Bonito Oliva. Solo exhibition at the “Nicola Pedana” gallery in Caserta. Solo exhibition at the Fondazione Morra in Naples. Together with large-scale works, there are two video projections by Mario Franco documenting the Piazza Dante performance in Naples (2006) and that of Punta Campanella. Invited to carry out two performances at the Moderna Museet of Stockholm, Sweden for the event “AN EXPERIMENTAL CONFERENCE ON ART AND SCIENCE TO CHALLENGE THE MID-SUMMER SUN” where he reinterprets the cannon performance of 1956 and the stage performance of 1957.
2012 From March 14 to May 5 2012 a personal exhibition “SHOZO SHIMAMOTO” at the Axel Vervoordt Gallery of Antverp (Belgium)
2014 from 29 November 2014 to 28 January 2015 a personal exhibition at the WeGallery Berlin (Germany)