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First exhibition devoted to Kazuo Shiraga in juxtaposition with Satoru Hoshino opens at Dominique LÚvy
Kazuo Shiraga, Chijikusei Gotenrai, 1961.

NEW YORK, NY.- Dominique LÚvy Gallery presents Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino. This exhibition places a group of 23 important abstract paintings made over the course of the fifty-year career of legendary Gutai artist Kazuo Shiraga, in dialogue with a series of nine works from the 1990s by Satoru Hoshino, a prominent member of the avant-garde postwar Japanese ceramics group Sodeisha, the “Crawling through Mud Association,” founded by Kazuo Yagi (1918-1979) in Kyoto. Body and Matter invites new insights into Shiraga’s extraordinary oeuvre through juxtaposition with the art of another Japanese master of a parallel universe: clay. Although they were near contemporaries in Japan, Shiraga (1924-2008) and Hoshino (b. 1945) never met. The exhibition at Dominique LÚvy marks the first time their work is shown in juxtaposition, tracing the thread of the informe—the “formless”—in the radical and poetic work of two great postwar Japanese figures who exploited different mediums and created fresh art- historical dialogue through their innovative approaches to matter and individuation.

Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino is curated by Koichi Kawasaki, former director of Ashiya City Museum of Art and History in Japan. On view through April 4, the exhibition coincides with Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga, also co-curated by Koichi Kawasaki with Gabriel Ritter, at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) in Dallas, Texas. Also devoted to advancing exploration into the contributions of Shiraga, Kawasaki’s DMA show is the first to pair his art side-by-side with that of fellow Gutai artist Motonaga.

Body and Matter will be accompanied by a fully illustrated hardbound book, released on Feburary 12, 2015 and offering leading research and scholarship on the work of Shiraga via several newly commissioned essays by Koichi Kawasaki, John Rajchman, Ming Tiampo, and Reiko Tomii; personal accounts by Hoshino and Shiraga; philosophical and poetic texts relevant to the exhibition’s theme; and extensive archival material.

Dominique LÚvy gallery will present a book launch on at the New York gallery, including a panel discussion with Koichi Kawasaki, Alexandra Munroe, Ming Tiampo, and Reiko Tomii, on February 12, 2015.

A Collision of Body and Matter
Body and Matter showcases 23 important works made by Kazuo Shiraga from the 1960s through the 2000s. Among the highlights of the exhibition is his extraordinary Suijū (1985), which held a prominent place in the personal collection of Spanish artist Antoni TÓpies and is widely considered one of the best examples of Shiraga’s work from the 1980s. Satoru Hoshino is represented in the exhibition by nine key outstanding abstract ceramic sculptures— pedestal and wall pieces— created in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Kazuo Shiraga emerged as one of the most prominent members of the avant-garde group Gutai with his sensational 1955 performance Challenging Mud. In a work that has become one of the canonical touchstones of postwar Japanese art as well as performance art, Shiraga used his entire body to aggressively manipulate a plot of mud, enacting a struggle between the human body and matter. The formless wall mud (kabetsuchi) used in Challenging Mud was made of cement, gravel, clay, plaster, pebbles, and twigs, and constituted a site of destruction against which the artist violently engaged his body. Through the various performances of Challenging Mud, Shiraga suffered physical injury in order to foreground the possible creative potential of destruction. He emerged from performances of Challenging Mud completely covered in congealing and caking material, ultimately obfuscating the line between his own body and the indexical marks made in the mud by his forceful movements.

This performance emerged out of Shiraga’s “foot painting” practice, a radical mode he developed to express himself more fully. Shiraga set a canvas on the floor of his studio and, suspending his body from the ceiling for support, used his feet to paint powerful and energetic abstract forms. The artist continued to paint in this manner for the majority of his career, and Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino includes these important foot paintings. Displayed in a Western context, these canvases challenge preexisting notions of artistic creation and the verticality assumed in the act of painting to emphasize the corporeal meeting of body and matter.

Shiraga engaged in the historical Japanese techniques of painting with the body rather than brushes (as finger-painting is a centuries-old technique developed in China) and laying the canvas directly on the floor. Introduced in a Western context, these techniques take on the valence of cultural reclaiming in the face of global modernism.

Satoru Hoshino’s ceramics similarly explore the visceral and nonhierarchical relationship between the body of the artist and matter. Hoshino has spoken of his artistic practice as an act of “baptism by… a wave of muddy water”: the body of the sculptor, rather than shaping and sublimating clay, is subsumed by the base materiality of mud and dirt. A prominent member of Sodeisha from 1974 to 1980, Hoshino, along with fellow members of the group such as Yamada Hikaru (1924- 2001) and Suzuki Osamu (1926-2001), questioned virtually all the conventions of ceramic materials, form, decoration, and function, and he addressed broader issues of presentation, social hierarchy, and the political role of art. After a landslide destroyed his studio in 1986, the artist experienced fresh revelations about the physicality and force of his material, and was inspired to work in a less controlled manner with it. Hoshino roughly shapes his sculptures by prodding and pushing clay with his fingers, and says of this process, “the finger mark is pushed to the clay unconsciously… [and so] the various elements that are in the body are put in the clay… there is no will to make a specific form.” Hoshino’s ceramics are often comprised of hundreds of finger marks, imprinted in the clay via a fierce, pulsating motion, assembled and reassembled without the orientation established by a potter’s wheel or the traditional vessel form dictated by function. In works such as Beginning Form with Spiral on view in Body and Matter Hoshino allows the clay to form and coil without any aesthetic preconceptions and the artist’s intervention in the traditional sense.

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