Shozo Shimamoto (Japanese, 1928-2013) Magi 903 2008
Lot 37W
Shozo Shimamoto
(Japanese, 1928-2013)
Magi 903
2008
Sold for £98,500 (US$ 129,885) inc. premium

Lot Details
Shozo Shimamoto (Japanese, 1928-2013) Magi 903 2008 Shozo Shimamoto (Japanese, 1928-2013) Magi 903 2008 Shozo Shimamoto (Japanese, 1928-2013) Magi 903 2008
Shozo Shimamoto (Japanese, 1928-2013)
Magi 903
2008

signed and dated 2008 on the reverse
acrylic and glass on canvas

150 by 200 cm.
59 1/16 by 78 3/4 in.

Footnotes

  • This work is registered in the archive of the Shozo Shimamoto Association, Nishinomiya-Reggio Emilia-Naples, under no. 684, and is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity.

    Provenance
    Private Collection, Italy
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2009

    Exhibited
    Bologna, MAGI '900, I Colori della Pace: Shozo Shimamoto e Yasuo Sumi, 2008, p. 25, illustrated in colour (incorrect dimensions)


    This large and astonishing painting, created by Gutai co-founder Shozo Shimamoto, represents the pinnacle of the artist's idiosyncratic technique, which he used to execute artworks from his Bottle Crash series. Apart from the dynamic and lyrical areas of pure colour splintering across the picture surface, the first thing one notices when looking at Magi 903 from 2008 are the scattered shards of glass, punctuating the pictorial plane and catching the light like stars. These not only add a sculptural quality to the work, but also act as a trace of the artwork's execution and its performative genesis. Indeed, performance was a vital process not only for Shimamoto, but also for the Gutai collective as a whole, whose avant-garde experimentations in the late 1950s are said to be one of the first instances of performance as practice in the grand narrative of art history.

    The present work's title, Magi 903, refers to the context in which it was created: Shimamoto was invited to create a performance by the Museo Magi '900 in Bologna, and on the 11 November 2008 he did just that. Setting up a polythene lined arena in the centre of the museum, the artist methodically placed un-stretched canvases across the floor with glass bottles of acrylic paint strategically positioned throughout. The large audience in attendance then witnessed the eighty year old artist proceed to lift bottles above his head and smash them onto the canvas covered floor. Bottles were smashed in time with excerpts from Mozart's Magic Flute, creating the atmosphere of some sort of colourful and surreal Gesamtkunstwerk. After an intense and physical fifteen minutes, the artist's performance was complete and after the canvases had dried, they were stretched, hung, and exhibited. The entire performance was filmed, and provides a fascinating insight into the artist's working practice.

    The result is that Magi 903, 2008 is an artwork composed of pure energy, and despite its inherent static nature, one cannot help but see movement, dynamism, and spirit. In other works from the Bottle Crash series, often the canvas or fabric used is unprimed, and this results in the pigment being drawn deep into the fibres to create a softer aesthetic, as colours bleed into one another. In the present work, however, Shimamoto primed the canvas in a deep maroon, and this formed a watertight barrier. Accordingly the paint does not penetrate the canvas; rather it marbles and swirls on the surface, the colour intermingling in random abandon, resulting in a deeply rich and wonderfully finished surface. This gives his work a level of pictorial complexity that would be unattainable through conscious design, and indeed, Shimamoto's practice was deeply rooted in use of chance in the dictation of composition and form.

    The scale of Shozo Shimamoto's immense influence on the global sphere of contemporary art is only now becoming apparent, since Gutai has finally been acknowledged by the West - as evidenced by the Guggenheim's seminal show dedicated to the group in 2013. Shimamoto is now included in some of the world's leading museums such as the Tate Gallery in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome, cementing his position as one of the most important Japanese artists of the Twentieth Century.
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