photo: SAIKI Taku

Color-Blindness Testing Chart No. 10

ArtistSHIMIZU Akira
Material/ Techniqueoil and collage on canvas
Size/ DurationH167.2 × W134.3cm
Copyright Notice© SHIMIZU Akira
Year of acquisition/ donation2000
DescriptionBorn in Toyama, Japan in 1936. Lives and works in Saitama.

After graduating from Painting course of Kanazawa College of Art in 1958, Shimizu Akira became friends with avant-garde artists of his generation and produced objects, happenings and other works that went far beyond the accepted notions of art. Later, his involvement with HIJIKATA Tatsumi led to his working on stage design, posters and costumes for performances of ‘Butoh.’ The works he made after 1970 – fantasy-like creations comprising cut-up photographs– reflect the landscapes of the Japan Sea coast area where his hometown is located. While Shimizu has been active in a wide range of fields, he has always sought to reconcile the methodology of the avant-garde with more indigenous elements.

A piece inspired by the test chart for detecting redgreen color blindness. Red and green circles in various sizes are arranged on a white canvas to form a perfect round that touches the rectangle shape of the canvas. It appears as though they are arranged randomly, but they are in fact arranged to reveal the Arabic number 10 in tones of blue when seen from afar. Studied up close, we can see that there are pasted images of pinups of blond women, as well as images showing the bright and affluent urban life of early 1960s America. Although it has elements of graphic design, the artist’s sarcasm and sense of humor can be perceived from the way he has chosen the gravure images and how he has combined the illusions produced from looking at the chart as well as the design of the color blindness test chart.