SHIRAGA Kazuo was an artist whose name was synonymous with the Gutai Group and was a prominent member. Shiraga creates paintings using his hands and feet. His painting style was called “action painting” and his works were complete deviations from traditional Japanese art. The traditional Japanese sense of beauty abhors aggressiveness and has a preference for subtlety. For traditional Japanese art, even if colours were used in an extravagant manner, there would have been some effort to evoke a sense of tranquility. However, strangely enough, all of Shiraga’s works were aggressive. Not many could see tranquility or subtlety in his works. He was considered an eccentric in the Japanese art scene. In 1971, Shiraga entered the Buddhist priesthood. It will be interesting to study how his aggressive works are linked to his Buddhist priesthood.

Shiraga’s original works fetched a very high price recently and is expected to soar. His works are the most highly-rated, and also auctioned and displayed at many international exhibitions. As a Japanese artist who deviated from the Japanese cultural norms, he has set a new direction for Japanese art henceforth.

Kazuo Shiraga was born in Kobe in 1924, and recently passed away at the age of 83 in 2008.