Fujiko Shiraga

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This artist's profile and the listed artworks have been verified and approved by Fergus McCaffrey

Over the last decade, Shiraga's works have garnered increasing art-historical attention. Her exceptional paper works, paintings and installations have been featured in major Western exhibitions dedicated to Gutai art and in two posthumous retrospectives, solidifying her enduring legacy.

Biography of Fujiko Shiraga

Fujiko Shiraga was born in 1928 in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. She graduated from Osaka Prefecture Otemae High School in 1946.  Two years later, she married Kazuo Shiraga. In 1952, she became a member of Zero Society (Zero-kai), an art collective founded by Kazuo and other artists such as Murakami Saburo and Akira Kanayama.

Around June 1955, Fujiko Shiraga joined the Gutai Art Association, along with other members of Zero Society. Like many Gutai artists, Fujiko did not receive formal training as an artist, and her earliest works dating back to 1955 were influenced by Jiro Yoshihara, the founder of Gutai.

Between 1955 and 1960, Shiraga actively participated in Gutai's exhibitions and events. She created distinctive hanging scrolls and paper canvases using torn Japanese washi paper. By making creases, layering, and occasionally piercing the paper sheets, Shiraga emphasized the objecthood and three-dimensionality of the material.

During the late 1950s, Shiraga pushed the boundaries of her artistic experiments with paper. She took her creations to new dimensions by sculpting sheets of paper into large abstract high reliefs that extended from the walls. Additionally, Shiraga began incorporating wax, glass, and fire into her works, adding further diversity to the surface textures.

Alongside her artistic experiments, Shiraga published writings in Gutai's journal, titled "Gutai." In the article "About Myself Before and After the Outdoor Exhibition", she wrote about her first experience of creating artworks in an outdoor space. In another article, published in 1956, she reflected on her encounter with Bell (1956), an interactive acoustic installation by her colleague Atsuko Tanaka.

In 1961, Shiraga decided to step away from her own art practice and support her husband Kazuo's artistic career. Despite no longer creating art herself, she maintained a close connection to the Gutai community and continued to assist Kazuo.

Fujiko Shiraga's art style

Shiraga's art style was characterized by an experimental approach and described as tactile and innovative. Her works have a sense of energy and movement, achieved through dynamic compositions and the interplay of different textures and materials. While she was associated with the Gutai Art Association, Shiraga's artistic expression was distinct and stood out within the group, showcasing her unique vision and creative voice. 

Shiraga ventured into experimentation with broken glass, introducing it as an element within her paintings. This unconventional choice added a sense of contrast and intrigue, juxtaposing the fragile and delicate nature of the glass fragments against the other materials in her works. Her manipulation of torn Japanese paper and incorporation of encaustic wax created visually captivating works that challenged conventional notions of materials and expanded the boundaries of artistic expression. Shiraga's unique approach left a lasting impact on the avant-garde art scene.