Shigeru Onishi

Shigeru Onishi (1928-1994, Okayama) was a mathematician and photographer/artist. Onishi was a Buddhist who practiced Zen and the traditional technique Sumi (Japanese ink drawing) in his hometown Okayama after finished his studies of higher mathematics at Hokkaido University with a thesis on Hilbert spaces. He published “Super Function Theory” (Cologne, 1970) including his famous text “A study of Meta-Infinite”, both derived from topology. Onishi, who was regarded one of the photographers in the style of Subjective Photography in the 1950s, created artwork as mathematical practice based on his “Meta-infinite” theory using several techniques such as multiple exposures, toning and special developing technique in darkroom. The artist used brushstroke on photographic paper in developing process to create special touches and effects in photomontage.

Onishi’s photos were presented in some exhibitions in the 1950s including “International Subjectivity Photography Exhibition” at Takashimaya department store and two solo exhibitions at galleries in Tokyo. Japanese art critique Shuzo Takiguchi(1903-79), who introduced surrealism art movement to Japan, highly acclaimed his work pointing out “Onishi’s photograph is in a strange chaotic state between time and space.
Onishi started producing abstract ink paintings later 1950s. ”Michel Tapie, a French art critique who introduced a Japanese “Gutai” movement to Europe, also introduced Onishi’s ink paintings to European art world in the mid 1950s.


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