Shisen (Purple Fairy)

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection
    Mallet Japan, Tokyo, 11 June 2010, Lot 170
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Much like the Action Painters rising out of post-war America and the Abstract Expressionism that followed suit, Kazuo Shiraga sought to shift preconceived artistic paradigms that he found were defunct, and which could no longer serve as vehicles through which to express himself. In his pursuit of a distinct mode of self expression, Shiraga first founded the experimental group Zero-kai (Zero Society) with fellow artists in 1952, before joining the renowned Gutai group (which officially formed in 1955). The group’s inaugural show, the First Gutai Art Exhibition at the Ohara Kaikan Hall in Tokyo set the stage for a sensational performance that Shiraga put on: in a revolutionary feat of strength and stamina, the artist’s Challenging Mud pushed the boundaries of performance and artistic creation. Shiraga’s famous wrestle with mud—becoming one with this new material and the raw energy that tamed it—was the beginning of a lifetime of Performance Painting, created a full five years before Yves Klein’s Anthropometry paintings. The artist would later move on to deploy his feet in his art creation, an enthrallingly new mode of painting that earned him a dedicated editorial in Life magazine in 1956.

    Shisen (Purple Fairy) was created during Shiraga’s mature, post-Gutai years, a period during which the artist had perfected his iconic foot-painting and had risen to even further international acclaim. In this work filled with bright fuchsias and purples, deep maroons and mauves, one detects a lighter, more boundless approach to painterly expression and impasto manipulation. Along with its playful title—a nod to mythology and folklore—Shishen (Purple Fairy) is a potent rumination on the entirety of Shiraga’s oeuvre: not only does it draw from the artist’s famed Water Margin series and his love for lore, it is perhaps even more reminiscent of his earliest red hues, featured in the earlier Red Liquid and Wild Boar Hunting series which captured the viscera of combat.

    Shiraga’s shift from darker hues to a more vibrant pink also faintly recalls Yves Klein’s own preoccupation with the symbology and purpose linked to change and selection of colour. Calling to mind Klein’s shift to Monopink in 1960, transitioning from an ‘immaterial’ blue to a more ‘corporeal’ and flesh-like pink or rose, perhaps Shisen (Purple Fairy) draws parallels to Klein’s method of transposing meaning onto colour. In so doing, Shisen (Purple Fairy)’s pinks transcend its title and take on the ‘concreteness’ that was enshrined in the namesake of Gutai. The present work echoes the essence of Gutai, captured by the group’s founder Yoshihara Jiro in its manifesto: ‘Gutai art does not change the material but brings it to life. It does not falsify the material. In Gutai art the human spirit and the material reach out their hands to each other’ (excerpt from translation by Reiko Tomii, originally published as “Gutai bijutsu sengen,” Geijutsu Shinchō 7, no. 12 (December 1956), pp. 202–04).

    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.

  • Catalogue Essay

    白髮一雄的藝術發展趨勢與美國戰後時期興起的行動派繪畫和隨後的抽象表現主義藝術頗為相似,他不斷嘗試改變那些他認為已經名存實亡的藝術慣例,以及不足以表達自己的媒介。在他追求獨特自我表達方式的過程中,白髮一雄與志同道合的藝術家於1952年一起建立了實驗性質的「零社團」,其後又加入著名的「具體派」(1955年正式成立)。團體的首次展覽是在東京 Ohara Kaikan Hall 舉辦的「第一屆具體派藝術展」,期間白髮一雄上演了一場轟動十分的行為藝術:作品《挑戰泥土》在力量與毅力的體現中,打破表演與藝術創作之間的邊界。白髮一雄與泥土搏鬥,與這種新媒材和馴服它的原始力量融為一體。該次表演開啟了其一生追求的行動派繪畫,比伊夫·克萊因的「身體繪畫」還要早整整五年。藝術家還在之後的創作加入足繪,開創了史無前例的繪畫手法,更在1956年獲得《生活》雜誌的專題刊登。


    《紫仙》是白髮一雄後具體派年代的成熟作品,當時藝術家已經完善了他最具標誌性的「足繪」,在國際上也獲得更高度的讚揚。此作畫面以鮮艷的紫紅色、紫色、褐紫紅和淡紫色為主,可見更趨淡雅無垠的畫風,增加畫質表達或厚塗控制的深度。作品題目充滿玩味,向神話和民間傳說致意,《紫仙》是白髮一雄創作歷程中一個十分有力的代表,不僅有來自其著名的《水滸傳》系列和其鐘愛的鬼怪傳說,更令人想起他早期的《紅色液體》和《狩獵野豬》系列中的搏鬥元素。


    白髮一雄從黑暗的調子轉換到更加鮮明的粉紅色,令人想到伊夫·克萊因對符號主義和對顏色改變和選擇的意義。克萊因在1960年轉換到單色粉紅,從「非物質」的藍色到更為「物質」和肉體般的粉色和玫瑰色,《紫仙》或許與克萊因為顏色植入意義的手法相通,如此,《紫仙》中的粉色便超越了題目,呈現「具體感」,如具體派的意義一般。此作呼應具體派的核心思想,如團體創始人吉原治良在具體派宣言中所說:「具體派藝術不是改變材料,而是讓它活過來,不會去竄改材料。在具體派藝術中,人類精神與材料都向對方伸出了手。」(節錄自 Reiko Tomii 翻譯,原版出版為<具體藝術宣言>,《藝術新潮》第7期,第12冊(1956年12月),202-04頁)

    白髮一雄隨後在其一生的創作中繼續探討身體與媒材的相互關係,以其足繪最為人所知,到了八旬年齡還不斷創作,成為其藝術的標誌。

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Shisen (Purple Fairy)

1984
signed 'Shiraga [in Kanji]' lower left; further signed, titled and dated 'Kazuo Shiraga "Shisen" 1984 October [in Kanji] (59th year of Showa Era)' on the reverse
oil on canvas
60.6 x 72 cm. (23 7/8 x 28 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1984, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Japan Art Dealers Association.

Estimate
HK$1,900,000 - 2,700,000 
€221,000-314,000
$244,000-346,000

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Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2019