Kazuo Shiraga (1924 Amagasaki, Japan – April 8, 2008 Amagasaki, Japan) was a contemporary artist.
Even as a child, Shiraga painted in oil, inspired by his father and an art teacher who taught this new technique in Japan for a painting school. In 1942 he began a study of classical Japanese painting at the art school of Kyoto. In 1944 he was sent to the Japanese army in Osaka, but was not commanded to use outside Japan.
After the end of World War II, Shiraga returned to study. In 1948 he graduated from the Kyoto School of Fine Arts and married. In the same year he exhibited his first works. In 1951 he became acquainted with the painting style of Jackson Pollock in an exhibition.
In 1952, the Contemporary Art Discussions Group was founded. Shiraga and his painter friends participate in their exhibitions. Together with Saburo Murakami and Akira Kanayama, he founded Zero-kai ( “Zero Society”), to which Atsuko Tanaka later joined. In 1953 his first abstract painting was made using a pallet knife. In addition paintings were made, in which he applied the oil paints directly with his hands and fingers. In the following year, he painted his first footprints, which he pinned on ropes. Murakami and Shiraga had their first exhibition in a department store in Osaka in 1953. In another department store in the city, he showed his footprints in a group exhibition of the Zero Society.
In 1954, Shiraga joined renowned Japanese avant-garde collective Gutai.
Shiraga attracted attention with his performance paintings “Challenging Mud and Red Logs” as forms of action painting. Since that time he wrote in the magazine Gutai about his art. In 1957 the French art critic Michel Tapié, accompanied by Georges Mathieu and Imai Toshimitsu, traveled to Japan and united Gutai with his movement of art Informel.
In September 1958, Shiraga and Gutai became well known through an exhibition at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York City, which was subsequently shown at various locations in the US and Canada. With Tapié, Shiraga signed a contract for the sale of his works in Europe
From 1966 onwards the formats of his paintings became smaller, he gave up the foot painting and produced his squeeze paintings, in which he applied the colors by means of his feet and a wooden stick or a wooden plate. From 1968 he taught art in Osaka, where he taught his students with the modern art of the West.
In 1971 Shiraga gave up the painting and started as a monk in the temple Enryaku-ji of the Tendai sect on Mount Hiei-zan near Kyoto. From 1972 onwards he began to paint there again and used the particularly liquid alkyd paints. His paintings were titled, among other things, with reference to history and esoteric Buddhism.