Ushio Shinohara – Boxing Painting

11th of September – 25th of September
free entrance

The exhibition is part of Cricoteka’s 2nd Birthday.



Ushio Shinohara, Boxing Painting

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.

However, their spiritual twin history began earlier. In the late 1950s, each fell, in his own fashion, under the spell of the expressive brutality of Informel and the matter-consuming violence of action painting. Kantor painted accident-directed, sublimely coloured canvas, while developing his notion of Informel theatre, where an actor was as significant as a set. Shinohara brings to life the idée fixe of self-effacing painting and – in his unobvious critique of Informel, its contrary deformation – becomes a process. He entitles it Boxing Painting. Recklessly, he attacks the canvas wearing diving googles, armed with nothing but boxing gloves drenched in litres of sticky paint. “Don’t stop, don’t think.” Shinohara wrote in his drawing lesson. “More important than the end result is the fact that the tip of your pen keeps moving.” In line. Briskly and beautifully.

In fact, both are cases of objectification. Ready-made objects that only need to be set in motion. A fluidity, but also a tension, which can only be relieved by a destructive force. Whimsical and violent. An action which inundates – like a glove in paint – the whole ludicrousness of camouflage.

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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