Born in Hyogo, Japan, Kazuo Shiraga studied painting at the Kyoto City Specialist School of Arts (now the Kyoto City University of Arts).
Upon graduating in 1948, he formed Zero Group with Akira Kanayama, Saburo Murakami and Keiko Tanaka in 1952, and with them joined the Gutai Art Association in 1972 (the group disbanded with the death of Jiro Yoshihara in 1972).
His painting method involves dripping paint onto canvas instead of using a brush and painting strokes with his feet while hanging from a rope. His work exhibits an incomparable feeling of power and speed and stands as one of the monumental landmarks in the history of Japanese avant-garde art.
Shiraga specialized in Japanese-style painting at school, switching later to oil painting. By the time he joined the “Gutai” group, a Kansai-based avant-garde art group, in 1955, he had begun to paint directly with his hands and feet, abandoning the brush all together.
For this work too, Shiraga suspended himself from ropes and painted this work with his feet, using the canvas as a brush. Shiraga has commented that, through this method of painting, he wanted to display “traces of action carried out with speed.”
Indeed, the flow and build-up of pigment in this work create a dynamic effect resembling the violent movements of a massive beast, and the surface of the painting preserves the raw movements of the artist challenging the canvas.