Kazuo Shiraga

Born: Amagasaki, 1924. Died: 2008
Period of Membership in GUTAI : 1955-1972

After studying Japanese-style paining at Kyoto City University of Arts, Shiraga went on to attend the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts Art Institute. He exhibited at the Shin Seisaku Kyokai [New Production Association] Exhibition from 1950 onward, later forming the “Zero-Kai” [Zero Society] with Saburo Murakami and Kazuo Shiraga in 1952. From around this time, he experimented with painting using his palms, fingers, and nails instead of brushes, in pursuit of the smoothness of texture of oil painting, eventually hitting upon a painting method of spreading paint over the soles of his feet.
In 1955, he joined the Gutai Art Association after receiving a request to join as a Zero Society member. At the time, his “actions”, such as slashing logs with an ax and wrestling with large amounts of mud, garnered him much attention, particularly from overseas. In the “Gutai” journal, he published articles focusing on “shishitsu” [a Japanese word meaning temperament, or innate disposition] and proposing a process of thinking about creation. His foot painting tableaus, which have become synonymous the name “Shiraga”, earned him particularly high praise. In 1971, he entered the Buddhist priesthood at Hieizan Enryakuji.