Art on Film: Cutie and the Boxer

Cutie_and_the_BoxerCutie and the Boxer via Dogwoof


We watched Cutie and the Boxer (2013) last night. I was hesitant to do so due to having grown up, and later worked, in the art world. My main concern was that it was going to be a pretentious load of art-hype twaddle.

Take how you feel towards most adverts on TV and multiply that feeling until it makes you want to lie down in a dark room in fetal position whispering ‘I want to go home’ hoping that whisper will spirit you away to a sane world – That’s how I feel about the art world, especially the business side of it which has a tendency to be more dominant than the craft side of it. Listening to someone who is not the artist explain what a piece of art means, signifies, is expressing, and I want to crack my skull open and eat my brains with a spoon.

Ushio Shinohara, the Boxer in the title, expresses a similar feeling about the world he inhabits while preparing for a show of his work. He reads the blurb which the gallery has created for the show and laughs at its banality. His laughter is tinged with a certain type of anger which is common amongst artists.


Ushio Shinohara artworkUshio Shinohara Artwork via Art Asia America


They live on a strange periphery of the art world. That strange periphery is a place outsiders rarely get to visit.

The business side of the art world does not want people to see it. They want to control the artist and what you see of him or her, have you to see their fantasy version of the creation and its creator – that fantasy version is how art is turned into money more often than not.

Most artists don’t want others to see it either, they value their privacy – to be left alone so they can create.

This film is superb. It shows the true and gritty behind the scenes of an artist’s life, a life lived with a passionate, compulsive, impulsive, need to create and keep working no matter what.

It also reveals the interwoven relationships between an artist and those closest to him.

Noriko Shinohara, Cutie in the title, is Ushio Shinohara’s wife and partner in art for many decades. She too is an artist whose latest work influenced the title of the film.


Cutie_and_the_Boxer- Noriko Shinohara


They have a son, Alex, who is glimpsed yet hidden in the film behind the strong characters of his parents, as though he is one of their treasured artworks which they don’t want to share. He too is an artist of considerable talent, and his work can be found on his website – Alex Kukai Shinohara.

It’s a wonderfully satisfying viewing experience. Art on film isn’t just about the art featured, or the artist profiled, it’s about all the stories which inspire the creations of those bold enough to live on strange peripheries, and also about how they affect those filming them, watching them, glimpsing the lives of others through the lenses of our own lives.

I am very glad that we watched it (and that I got over myself to do so).


Love is a Roar!




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