Monday, October 8, 2012

Ushio Shinohara performed his “Boxing Painting” at the local college. He’s been doing this for over fifty years.

The first stroke is one of the best, a looping jumping overhand right that explodes in a splash of teal before dripping copiously into the path of the strike that immediately follows. My other favorites involve swiping hooks, smearing blackness across the enormous canvas and imprinting the energy of the moment into some form of permanence.

He refuses to stop and consider, pausing only to hurriedly dip the gloves in fresh paint for another set of pummeling. Paint is flying everywhere, somehow getting on his back, his goggles, in his mohawk.

When he finishes his steady advance across the canvas, he relaxes his shoulders in exhaustion for only a moment before raising his gloves with a victorious grin. My gaze is drawn to those archipelagos of color that stream off the edge of his enormous white opponent and onto the wall and plastic sheeting behind. These will be lost without my attention, and I am compelled to stare and stare. They seem to be among the most beautiful pieces of the work.

The student volunteers had all been wearing plain white t-shirts for a reason, we discover. He showers them with careful body shots, rolling the hybrid glove-sponge apparatus across their shoulders and ribs to make a memento. I find these easily as delightful as the “actual” piece on the wall.

His advice to the artists who came—well, to everyone, I suppose—is as follows:

Be speedy, be beautiful, be rhythmical.

I am hunting for the kanji he is using when he says this.


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