A look at the collection: Shōzō Shimamoto, Palazzo Ducale 11

The oeuvres that can be found in the Reinhard Ernst Collection also include several works of the Japanese Gutai group. This community of artists was formed in the 1950s, when Japan was undergoing great socio-political change. Its young members explored new, radical forms of expression through a combination of performance, painting, installation and theatre. Many were influenced by their European and American contemporaries, such as Jackson Pollock and the European Informel school. The Gutai Group achieved international recognition and its art has been and is still exhibited worldwide.

The paintings were created based on very unusual methods. Kazuo Shiraga painted with his feet, Akira Kanayama with a remote-controlled car, Yasuo Sumi with an abacus. The process was seen as just as important as the result. Shōzō Shimamoto (1928–2013), a cofounder of the Gutai Group, also looked for ways to explore artistic freedom. With his bottle crash technique, he threw bottles full of colourful paint on to laid-out lengths of material. A rare black and white photograph by Kiyoji Otsuji from 1956 – which is also included in the Reinhard Ernst Collection – shows the then 28-year-old Shimamoto practising his art. On closer inspection, you can still identify individual shards of broken glass in the unsettling abstract colour structures.

Kiyoji Otsuji, Gutai photograph 1956-57, 2012 / Shōzō Shimamoto creating a picture using his bottle crash technique, 1956 © Kiyoji Otsuji

One of the works created in this experimental manner entitled Palazzo Ducale 11 from 2008 is part of the Reinhard Ernst Collection. The painting has this title because it was created as part of an art performance by Shōzō Shimamoto in the historic Palazzo Ducale in Genoa. Shōzō Shimamoto’s art is included in the collections of renowned galleries, such as the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo or the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome.

Shōzō Shimamoto, Palazzo Ducale 11, 2008 © Shōzō Shimamoto