Kazuo Shiraga - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Saturday, May 25, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Gallery Kuranuki, Osaka
    Private Collection
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Exhilarating is a mature example from Kazuo Shiraga’s most methodologically-developed post-Gutai period, and features the artist’s iconic foot-painting technique. This manner of painting rapidly set the artist apart from his peers in Gutai, earning him a dedicated feature in Life magazine in 1956, in which Shiraga swung from a rope suspended to the ceiling, dragging paint across a sprawling canvas with his feet. Post-Gutai works such as the present lot exude a lighter, unbridled sense of painterly execution and impasto manipulation, perhaps in part thanks to Shiraga’s training and subsequent ordainment as a Tendai Buddhist monk in the seventies—an undoubtedly spiritually liberating experience. Though created in the latter portion of Shiraga’s career and infused with a freer spirit, later works still featured signature motifs: a sanguine colour palette, hailing from some of the artist’s earliest and visceral Red Liquid, Wild Boar Hunting, and Water Margin-inspired series—the red hues of these immortalised on the cover of Gutai 4 (published 1 July 1956). These works represented the artist’s post-war fascination with the physicalisation of art-making itself, boosted all the more by the artist’s renowned axiom, “I want to paint as though rushing around a battlefield” (Kazuo Shiraga, “Omou Koto (Thoughts)”, Gutai 2 (published 10 October 1955), p.20). The title Exhilarating further echoes the rush of adrenaline and force underscoring the performance-painter’s seminal performance, Challenging Mud in 1955, in which the artist plied and pushed mud with his entire body as if it were impasto.

    Kazuo Shiraga would go on to explore the interrelationship between body and material throughout his entire oeuvre, and in particular become most well-known for his foot paintings—a hallmark of his opus which he continued into his eighties.



signed, titled and dated '"Exhilarating" 1989 December Kazuo Shiraga [in Kanji]' on the reverse
oil on canvas
38 x 45.5 cm. (14 7/8 x 17 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1989, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Japan Art Dealers Association (JADA).

HK$1,000,000 - 2,000,000 

Sold for HK$2,312,500

Contact Specialist
Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019