‘Cutie and the Boxer’ Promotional image (2013). Ushio Shinohara and Noriko Shinohara.
Produced and directed by Zachary Heinzerling, “Cutie and the Boxer” (2013) is a biographical documentary film that follows the married artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara as they prepare for exhibitions. Best known for using his boxing gloves to punch paint onto canvases, Ushio’s unique mark-making performances have long since drawn attention and acclaim. Opening with Ushio’s eightieth birthday, the film describes their history together; from when they first met in New York in 1973 to the trials of the present day.
Filmed over a few years, “Cutie and the Boxer” also uses archival footage to provide context. What wasn’t caught on camera is shown with animated sequences of Noriko’s semi-autobiographical ink drawings. Whereas Ushio’s artwork has steadily garnered status in the art world over the years, the circumstances in “Cutie and the Boxer” enable a long overdue opportunity for Noriko’s work to come to the forefront. Tellingly interspersed with her characters Cutie and Bully, “Cutie and the Boxer” is the story their relationship and their forty-year marriage.
“Is it difficult being a couple and having the same profession?” asks an interviewer. “We are like two flowers in one pot. It’s difficult. Sometimes we don’t get enough nutrients for both of us,” replies Noriko.
Ushio Shinohara was born in Tokyo (1932). Noriko Shinohara was born in Takaoka City (1953). The artists both live and work in Brooklyn, New York City.