Shozo Shimamoto
Osaka, Japan 1928-2013


Born in Osaka in 1928, Shozo Shimamoto is one of the most influential Japanese artists of the post-war period. Shimamoto was one of the pioneers of action painting, performance art and mail art. His works predominantly focused on the tension created between the elements of chance and the Artist’ control. During his early career, while painting on newspaper, Shimamoto accidently punctured the paper. This was the beginning of a life-long study on destructive encounters with the surface of the artwork, primarily by inserting cuts and holes. Shimamoto used vivid colours and abstract forms, with the holes and cuts in an irregular pattern, to document the artist’s physical action and give the artwork a performative element.


Shimamoto’s action-based style of painting was the Eastern answer to some of the developments of the American post-war art scene such as Jackson Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism. His process of creating artworks through a performance, such as the throwing of paint vessels onto canvas, was developed in the 1950’s and carried on until his death in 2013. Shimamoto’s works, which had the debris from his performances integrated in the paint splatters, were not simply paintings but provided a visual record of his actions. Shimamoto named his works “performances of destruction”.


Alongside his mentor Jiro Yoshihara, Shimamoto founded the avant-garde artist group “Gutai” in 1954. This become one of the most important artist collectives in post-war Japan. 

The first exhibitions of the Gutai group took place in New York in 1958 and Shimamoto combined painting, music and performance. Shimamoto paved the way for the Fluxus movement and provided inspiration to artists such as Allan Kaprow and Nam June Paik.


After meeting Bern Porter, the physician who made the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Shimamoto was involved in numerous pacifist activities which led to his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996.


Shozo Shimamoto died in Osaka in 2013 at the age of 85.





2018    Sant’Elia Foundation, Palermo, Italy, Shozo Shimamoto: Time Rack

2018    Dellupi Arte, Milano, Shozo Shimamoto: Recent Works

2018    Fergus McCaffrey, New York, TEFAF TWENTY

2016    De Buck Gallery, New York, Shozo Shimamoto: Do Something Interesting, See Something Odd

2016    Whitestone Gallery, Hong Kong, Gallery Collection: GUTAI Group Show

2015    Whitestone Gallery, Hong Kong, Gallery Collection: Solo exhibition

2015    Whitestone Gallery, Hong Kong, `A Serious Bluffer` Solo Exhibition of Shozo Shimamoto

2015    Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Wijnegem - Antwerp, Shimamoto - The Gutai Works

2015    Whitestone Gallery, Hong Kong, Gallery Collection

2015    De Buck Gallery, New York, Shozo Shimamoto: Solo exhibition




  • “Untitled”, 40.7cm x 32cm, Tar, Sand and Glue on Layered Newpapers, 1951
  • US$356,380 Bonham’s, New Bond Street, August 2017
  • “Explosion 64-1”, 239cm x 179cm, Oil on Canvas, 1964
  • HKD20.5m Christie’s Hong Kong, 02 April 2017
  • “Untitled - Bottle Crash”, 162cm x 130cm, Oil on Canvas, 1962
  • HKD9.72m Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 31 March 2018