Flavio-Shiró is a Japanese-Brazilian visual artist. Regarded as an influential postwar Brazilian painter, he is known for his dark and disturbing paintings that merge elements of abstract expressionism and surrealism. His paintings are included in the permanent collections of notable museums including the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art, and the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain.
Flavio-Shiró was born in 1928 in Sapporo, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. In 1932, he emigrated to Tomé-Açu, Brazil with his family as part of a settler agricultural mission. Flavio-Shiró’s formative years were spent in the Amazon jungle, an experience that had a lasting influence on his artistic style and worldview.
Flavio-Shiró spent his adolescent years in São Paulo, studying at an arts and crafts school and painting movie posters for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He also began to participate in group shows, joining the Grupo Santa Helena, a movement of working-class modern painters. In 1953, Flavio-Shiró emigrated to Paris where he studied engraving and lithography at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts.
In the 1960s, Flavio-Shiró’s work shifted from abstract expressionism towards an increasingly surrealistic style featuring organic shapes and nightmarish objects inspired by his childhood in the Amazon. His artistic contributions during this period were recognized with several prestigious exhibits and awards, including the Guggenheim International Show in 1963 and the prize for painting at the second Biennale de Paris in 1961.
From the 1970s through the 2010s, Flavio-Shiró’s artistic production has continued. His signature style, combining abstract gestures, rich colors, and disturbing biological forms, continued to evolve, with landmark, large-scale works including Pablo (1973) and Memória dos Cais (1987), which is in the permanent collection of the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art. He received numerous awards, including the Itamaraty Award at the 1989 São Paulo Biennial and the Eco-Art Prize at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and held solo exhibitions at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, and the Tomie Ohtake Institute.
In 2019, Flavio-Shiró received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Emperor of Japan, the highest award conferred by the Japanese government to non-politicians, in recognition of his cultural contributions.