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Boxing Painting or Action Painting - Seeing and Hearing the SPLAT!

Updated on June 11, 2012

Do you, or someone you know, have too much energy for your, or their, own good? Do you or someone you know have aggressive tendencies or issues dealing with anger? What if you could really punch something, say a wall, and just like in the cartoons be able to see and hear the SPLAT? This is possible through a very innovative and creative method of action painting called Boxing Painting.

Never heard of it? It’s time to change that. Let me introduce you to Ushio Shinohara, a Japanese man born in Tokyo in 1932. At this particular time in Japanese history, many of the youth in the country were challenging the cultural norms of their society. Additionally, many young artists were experimenting with various art forms. Enter Ushio Shinohara.

His performances have taken him to new heights!
His performances have taken him to new heights! | Source
The absorbent material on the boxing glove is visible in this picture.
The absorbent material on the boxing glove is visible in this picture. | Source

In 1960, he was a co-founder of the Neo Dada movement. This movement is most easily explained by the definition provided at “a minor art movement chiefly of the 1960s reviving some of the objectives of dada but placing emphasis on the importance of the work of art produced rather than on the concept generating the work.”

Okay. So now let’s look at the definition of “dada” also at “the style and techniques of a group of artists, writers, etc., of the early 20th century who exploited accidental and incongruous effects in their work and who programmatically challenged established canons of art, thought, morality, etc.”

From these two definitions we can see that Shinohara’s interesting approach to the creation of paintings challenged both artistic and cultural beliefs. He is considered to be a prominent figure in the international development of contemporary art.

Shinohara created the “Boxing Painting” technique late in the 1950’s when he was in his mid-twenties. His performances and the paintings created during these performances communicate intensity, action and chaos to his audiences. Much like a SPLAT! does in the comics. It does seem like an interesting combination of things to try to communicate to an audience through the venue of painting, but his performances deliver a healthy one-two punch everytime.

Ushio Shinohara will often have his head shaved into a mohawk as part of his performance.
Ushio Shinohara will often have his head shaved into a mohawk as part of his performance. | Source

Boxing painting entails the dipping of boxing gloves into paint or ink and then attacking, otherwise known as boxing, the paper or canvas. The ensuing “splats” create his unusual works of art.

But before donning a pair of gloves, Shinohara will often share with his audience the history of the piece of art he will be creating, and about his relationship to action painting.

Shinohara’s assistant will ritualistically shave his head into a Mohawk, something he does at every “Boxing Painting” performance.

His assistant will then help Shinohara don his first pair of gloves which have an absorbent material on the end of them to soak up the paint. He then dips the gloves into the color of his choice and attacks his canvas with a literal explosion of color. He wears a different pair of gloves for each color.


When his masterpiece is completed (in less than 10 minutes) he formally bows to the audience.

Ushio Shinohara’s art work can be found in many museums’ permanent collections. Some of them include: Tokyo Metropolitan Museum; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Nagaoka; Toyota City Museum; National Museum of Art, Osaka; and the Yokohama Museum.

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Copyright © 2011 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)

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The battle between man and canvas is finished! This is what remains.
The battle between man and canvas is finished! This is what remains. | Source

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