Tracing the evolution of Shiraga‘s (1928 – 2008) signature “foot painting” method over his entire career, the exhibition will feature 15 examples spanning more than four decades, from 1958 to 2000.
The artist first embarked upon his experiments with foot painting in 1954, on a quest to articulate a radical individualism as a rejection of Japan’s wartime militarism.
Throwing away his brushes and rejecting his hands as too trained, Shiraga began painting with his feet, which enabled a fresh and direct mode of expression. Starting with paper or canvas laid out on the floor, the artist would deposit copious amounts of oil paint on the surface, and paint with the movements of his bare feet, sometimes hanging from the ceiling by a rope. Shiraga went on to employ this method of painting for the rest of his career, declaring, “I have never doubted that ‘action painting’ is my expression, never stopped it. I will single-mindedly continue to paint my painting with a sincere desire that the pleasure of making a painting will be communicated to those who see it.”1 While the palette and mood of these works evolved over time, they are united by a vigorous energy and a facture so dramatically rich and textured as to be almost sculptural.
The show will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue authored by noted Gutai scholar Dr. Ming Tiampo, Associate Professor of Art History at Carleton.