Cricoteka’s 2nd Birthday

In 2014, we fêted the opening of the new seat of Cricoteka on Nadwiślańska Street in the Podgórze district of Krakow. We have since then organised a great number of events, including 300 performances, screenings and exhibitions. This year, we would like to invite you, together with Marta Shefter Gallery, to join us on an extraordinary journey to Japan. Our honourable guest to Cricoteka’s 2nd Birthday is Ushio Shinohara – a Japanese performance artist and painter, apparently distant from, yet subversively related to Kantor’s work. Ushio Shinohara’s stay in Krakow will abound in events: his individual exhibition at Marta Shefter Gallery as well as a film screening, his performance and “Boxing Painting”, work on display at Cricoteka.




Saturday, 10th of September, Cricoteka, 2–4 Nadwiślańska Street

Film screening: “Cutie and the Boxer”, dir. Zachary Heinzerling (with Polish and English subtitles)

“Boxing Painting” – performance by Ushio Shinohara

Live DJ set by DJ EDEE DEE


Sunday, 11th of September, Cricoteka, 2–4 Nadwiślańska Street

Book sale at the Cricoteka Bookshop

Kantor-Shinohara Guided Tour (in Polish)
Route: Cricoteka, ul. Nadwiślańska 2-4 – Gallery-Studio of  Tadeusz Kantor, ul. Sienna 7/5 – Marta Shefter Gallery, ul. Jabłonowskich 6

11th–25th of September, Cricoteka, 2–4 Nadwiślańska Street
Ushio Shinohara at Cricoteka: work on display

Friday, 9th of September, 6pm, Marta Shefter Gallery, 6 Jabłonowskich Street

Exhibition opening: “Ushio Shinohara. Don’t bother my freedom!”


All events are free and open to the public.
Free tickets for the film screening available at the Cricoteka ticket office.
For the Guided Tour, registration is required. To register, please send an e-mail to:



Shinohara vs. Kantor

Ushio Shinohara. At first glance, he appears to have very little in common with Kantor. Disparate life experiences and historical loads, unlike artistic interests and world-views differently formed in  dissimilar geo-political conditions.  Ethnic and cultural differences. Irreconcilable differences. The poles not of one, both of two worlds.

In 1965, owing to the fellowship from the Ford Foundation, Kantor visits the US. Soon after the visit, he begins to experiment with happening: upon returning, he produces The Dividing Line. In the early 1970s, Kantor creates his conceptual, almost pure pop-art, impossible monuments: the coat hanger-bridge over the Vistula, the gigantic light-bulb, his designs for overscale chairs thrown into the absurdity of Communist reality. Ushio Shinohara arrives in New York four years after Kantor, also on fellowship. Unlike Kantor, Shinohara stays there. And even though both artists would never meet, their life trajectories seem to be unfolding in parallel. They see the same things in the US. They visit the same studios. They share the same view on the works of Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Jim Dine, Allan Kaprow, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and George Segal.

Our first impression was almost as Alice’s in Wonderland: everything there was devised to do something bizarre, to distance, to outrun, the Polish artist commented on his US visit to Wiesław Borowski. Not without reason did Shinohara argue in his autobiography, The Avant-Garde Road, that only the one who says a shocking line in the limelight, who is not ashamed to walk naked in front of the cameras, wins.

The Neo-Dadaist digested his perverse amazement while still in Japan, making forgeries of which he brazenly boasted in the faces of their original authors, or, if you like, his transgressive parodies of the works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, reiterating e.g. the notorious Coca-Cola Plan or Flags. Kantor reacted only at home. Almost upon arriving, he sent a horse-drawn cab to the Krzysztofory Palace with a lichenous canvas entitled: Please, Do Not Sign. And the note: take the title at face value. Not unlike “eat me!”, even though he thundered in his Decalogue: My signature means nothing!

A Japanese arriving in New York and a Pole on visits to Paris. Both were outsiders, living legends, but also megalomaniacs, metaphors for an émigré – a clash of art peripheries and centres, an ingestion, or merely an exchange, of the energy of fermentation, of a borrowed, spun-out forms into which they poured, inserted, and through which they sifted their interior excrement. The Tachist expressiveness meets the radical violence of action painting. And the reality of the lowest rank, scraps of memories and sensuous delusions meet the American Dream, dreamt in waking, a fascination with Disneyland and fast-food multiculturalism. Filtered through Japanese mass culture, trash is elevated to the rank of an icon.

Kantor went down the ‘rabbit hole’ a few more times. At the turn of the 1970s, to perform The Dead Class, among other things, and receive his award from New York critics soon afterward. Whereas Shinohara landed there for good, like a Mad Hatter who keeps dazzling with new puzzles to which he doesn’t know the answers. Or could he not have any?

Art to both is an extension of life. It is a total project. No matter how trite it may sound today. Since both made art not for, but, first and foremost, in opposition to others. And neither could do without the competition.


Text: Ania Batko


Ushio Shinohara is a Japanese artist of international renown. He was born in 1931 in Tokyo, Japan, and studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts. In 1960,  he was one of the founding members, together with Akasegawa Genpei, Arakawa Shūsaku and Yoshimura Masunobu, of the radical avant-garde art group Neo Dada, initially known as Neo Dadaism Organisers. In 1960-61, Shinohara earned notoriety with his then shocking Boxing Painting, both springing from and critiquing French Informel. He then moved on to produce the series, Imitation Art (1963), which consisted of copies of works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. In 1966, he had his first solo exhibition at a commercial gallery, Doll Festival, at the Tokyo Gallery, where he presented his Oiran series, combining the imagery of traditional, Japanese woodprints of the Edo Period with pop-art aesthetics. In 1969, he moved to the United States with a one-year fellowship provided by the JDR III Fund, and has since then lived and worked in New York. He did not take part in art movements related to minimalism and conceptualism, but focused on figurative art, developing his subsequent series, Motorcycle Sculptures. In 2007, he received the Mainichi Art Award; in 1982, he had his first museum retrospective outside Japan, at the Japan Society Gallery in New York City, and the following at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz, New York, in 2012. He was prominently featured in two global Pop Art exhibitions, “International Pop” at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and “The World Goes Pop” at Tate Modern in London in 2015. His work is found in public collection worldwide, including the new Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.



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