Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga

Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga

Dallas Museum of Art

Left: Sadamasa Motonaga, Work (detail), 1962. Oil paint and synthetic resin on canvas, 67 3/4 x 90 1/4 inches. Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (Yamamura Collection). © Estate of Motonaga Sadamasa. Right: Kazuo Shiraga, Hanmo (Proliferation) (detail), 1973. Oil on canvas, 63 3/4 x 63 3/4 inches. The National Museum of Art, Osaka. © Hisao Shiraga.

January 18, 2015

Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga
February 8–July 19, 2015

Dallas Museum of Art
1717 North Harwood
Dallas, TX 75201

The Dallas Museum of Art will present the first major US exhibition to explore the work of influential painters Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga side-by-side. Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga will examine the full arcs of the artists’ careers, from their early works to their 18-year engagement with the Gutai Art Association—the leading avant-garde group of postwar Japanese artists—to their later masterworks created in the 1980s, ’90s, and early 2000s. Drawing from among the best collections in Japan, the exhibition, on view exclusively at the DMA, will include paintings, drawings, films, small-scale sculpture, Gutai-related ephemera and re-creations of outdoor installations—many of which have never been exhibited in the United States.

Organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and the Japan Foundation in Tokyo, the exhibition highlights the experimental and innovative quality of Shiraga’s and Motonaga’s creative production through over 60 works of art and historical materials. Espousing Gutai’s vision to rethink inherited artistic and pictorial traditions, the artists developed unusual techniques and incorporated unexpected materials to achieve their own distinct painting styles. For example, Shiraga used his feet to paint, while Motonaga exploited the fluid properties of water and smoke as part of his process.

On view from February 8 through July 19, Between Action and the Unknown reconsiders the careers of Shiraga and Motonaga, not only as members of Gutai but first and foremost as artists in their own right. The exhibition is co-curated by Gabriel Ritter, the DMA’s Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, and Koichi Kawasaki, the former Chief Curator of Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, and adds a new chapter to the growing scholarship on art in postwar Japan. 

In conjunction with Between Action and the Unknown, the DMA hosts a series of public programs with visiting artists, collectors, curators, and scholars. 

Public programs:
“Challenging Voices: A Conversation about Art and the Ethical Imperative”
Ming Tiampo in conversation with Paul McCarthy and Axel Vervoordt
Wednesday, February 4, 7pm
Dallas Museum of Art, Horchow Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Gutai expert Ming Tiampo (Associate Professor, Carleton University, Ottawa) will speak with artist-lender Paul McCarthy and collector Axel Vervoordt about the work of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga and its global impact on both artistic practice and the art market. 

Ei Arakawa performance
Wednesday, April 8, 6pm  
Dallas Museum of Art
Free and open to the public

The DMA will premiere a newly commissioned work by New York-based performance artist Ei Arakawa inspired by the exhibition Between Action and the Unknown. Arakawa’s work takes shape as choreographed gatherings, along the lines of Happenings, in which the artist interacts with and reinterprets particular art objects or art historical moments. Often working with other artists, curators, and art historians Arakawa’s performances rely on both an openness to collaboration and audience participation. Arakawa aligns his work with the performative legacies of Japanese experimental art, such as Gutai, Jikken Kobo, and Fluxus, which he explores anew through his interpretive practice. 

Roundtable discussion: Koichi Kawasaki, Joan Kee, Gabriel Ritter, and James Rondeau
Saturday, May 2
The Warehouse, Dallas 
Free, RSVP required

Exhibition co-curators Gabriel Ritter and Koichi Kawasaki, together with Joan Kee (Associate Professor of History of Art, University of Michigan) and James Rondeau (Curator and Chair of Contemporary Art, Art Institute of Chicago) will discuss various topics related to the art and life of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga with the goal of situating their individual practices within a global art historical context.

Dallas Museum of Art presents Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga
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Dallas Museum of Art
January 18, 2015

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