Shōzō Shimamoto
Shōzō Shimamoto (1928-2013) was a Japanese artist, born in Osaka. He is considered a key figure in Japanese avant-garde and the 'mail art' movement, as well as co-founder of the influential Japanese Gutai Art movement, formed in 1954 together with Jiro Yoshihara, Akira Kanayama, Saburo Murakami and Kazuo Shiraga. The movement rejected traditional art styles in favor of performative immediacy and they were involved in large-scale multimedia environments, performances, and theatrical events with emphasis being placed on the the relationship between body and matter in pursuit of originality.

In 1953, three years after graduating from Kansai Gakuin University, Shimamoto on his first two art awards and took part in his first group exhibition, bringing together the young artists that would form the Gutai group the following year. In the following years many Gutai group exhibitions took place including the the "Second Open Air Exhibition of Modern Art" in which Shimamoto's 'Performance of Destruction' takes place; shooting bags of paint with cannons to a musical background. This premise gave birth to a new way of working by throwing colors on canvas or making use of one's body or even of unusual instruments such as firearms, helicopters and cranes: art becomes an action, event, happening, performance, and the artist becomes the viewer of the revealing of the color matter.

In the sixties, the Gutai artists are discovered and presented on the international scene by the young French critic Michel Tapié, and they began to exhibit in the most prestigious galleries in the world.

In 1972, the Gutai group dissolved and Shimamoto became interested in 'Mail Art' or 'Art Networking', developing a new and personal concept of the artwork as a product of social work and of the community that is reflected in a well-defined project. Every time he met an artist he invited him to express himself with brushes, canvases and colors, preserving the photographic documentation of the work.

Throughout the eighties and nineties he made a series of performances in America and throughout Europe. In 1994 Alexandra Munroe, the curator of the exhibition "The Japanese art after 1945: the cry against the sky" held at the Guggenheim Museum of New York, discovered that the holes by Shimamoto are dated back to 1950, which makes them forerunners of the famous creations by Lucio Fontana. This revelation leads to a renewed interest on the part of American criticism against the Japanese artist.

In 1996, after having met the nuclear physicist Bern Porter, creator of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, thanks to his anti-war activities he was proposed as a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Peace. In 1998 he was chosen as one of the four greatest artists of the postwar world along with Jackson Pollock, John Cage and Lucio Fontana, for an exhibition at MOCA in Los Angeles.

In 2008 the Villa Croce Museum of Contemporary Art in Genoa dedicated a retrospective to the master entitled "Samurai acrobat gaze" curated by Achille Bonito Oliva and organized by the Genoese gallery ABC-ARTE.

Engaged in academic teaching at the Kyoto University of Education, in the last years of his life Shimamoto played the role of President of University of Art and Design of Takarazuka and of the Disabled Artists Japanese Association. His works are exhibited in major museums around the world, including the Tate Gallery, the Pompidou Centre, the Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, the Bern Art Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art in Venice and in almost all Japanese museums.