Shozo Shimamoto was a founding member of the Gutai movement and began studying painting with Gutai founder, Jiro Yoshihara (1905-1972) while studying at Kwansei Gakuin University. In 1957 he wrote an essay for the Gutai journal titled Efude shokei ron [Killing the paintbrush] in which he argued that the paintbrush had for too long dominated and restricted paint. Gutai strived to release previously hidden elements within the material by disposing the brush altogether. Therefore Gutai artists found many alternative methods of application and process, such as Michio Yoshihara’s painting with a bicycle and Kazuo Shiraga with his feet. In addition, Gutai artists would present matter rather than represent it, allowing it to speak for itself. Chiyu Uemae layered matchsticks onto a board and combined with paint, sawdust and glue (Work, 1960).
In 1956 at the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition in Tokyo, Shimamoto produced his first ‘Bottle Crash’, where he placed a rock in the centre of a large canvas on the floor, against which he hurled bottles containing various coloured paints. This experiment produced a technique which would significantly affect his future work. “I think the throwing of bottles as a method of painting is a form of study of the unknown,” Shimamoto once said. “More than anything else, I find stimulation in the materialisation of an unpredictable expression.” Often produced during performances in various locations either within Japan or abroad, through the act of throwing, Shimamoto produced highly charged and dramatic works based on randomness and chance. Bottle Crash, 1991, offered here, is one of the largest bottle crash works ever to be offered at auction.