There’s something new in the Japanese art galleries. Take the escalator to the second floor, turn right, and then right again through the door—you’ll see a large abstract painting of irregular circles and drip-lines, created by punching a canvas with boxing gloves dipped in paint. Beside it is a big hanging scroll in ink on paper depicting Daruma, the first patriarch of Zen Buddhism.
Why are these two side by side? What unites them is the forceful application of paint or ink—so forceful that in each case the medium splashes and splatters around the site of impact. Separated by 100 years, both works celebrate the uncontrolled, messy edges of art-making.
It might be interesting to know that both Ushio Shinohara, the New York-based artist whose “Boxing Painting” is on the right, and the Zen monk Nakahara Nantenbo, who painted our Daruma, often create (or created) their work in front of live audiences. The performative aspects of these works—the drama of the paint or ink hitting the surface, the spontaneous pattern that emerges in that moment, and the suspense of seeing the artists’ next moves—are as important here as the finished product.
View the video installed on a tablet next to Shinohara’s “Boxing Painting” to get a feel for the power, rhythm, and velocity of the artist’s attack on the canvas. You can also view this movie trailer that features Shinohara and his wife.
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