Shimizu is primarily concerned with the generic and cliché situations of everyday life, whilst simultaneously being informed by popular media.
Shimizu’s paintings, generally depicting sadly mundane and introspective household activities, also suggest tragic psychologies of his protagonists. These nebulous images lacking specificity and detail introduce an eerie mystery surrounding the character of the painter; at times introspective, at others voyeuristic. The paintings themselves are cursory in the way masturbation often can be: Shimizu barely paints at all. Consisting of a few impulsive, gestural strokes, sometimes built up in muted hues but often left against a stark white canvas, they flesh out fleeting moments. Shimizu uses painting as an efficient way of getting his ideas down, and the results are weird, bleak snapshots. These quick scenes seem ephemeral, somewhat out of reach. Shimizu’s simplicity skimpily clothes the intangible.
Using titles like Girlfriend Wants a Baby instead of My Girlfriend Wants a Baby, he disassociates himself from his paintings in a way a filmmaker would represent themselves in their film, as another character. “I have related myself to an actor in bit parts and minor roles.”
One distinct stylistic element lingers throughout: a scarcely dry brushed, even economical, image with a figurative subject, blurred and dryly smudged, within elements of some vague environment. Many of the works come close to being slapstick, even raunchy, a sort of shock—comedy. The images are often so vague that they do not present enough information to commit to the punch line of a slapstick joke, and instead they remain naïve.
The portraits have both pop culture and expressive self-portraiture references. Shimizu is interested in how Courbet created a variety of personas, which relates to his interest in acting and filmmaking. For example, works such as Elsa, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Self Portrait can be read as subject matter directly related to the interests of suburban families who may or may not have children, or who might be considered ‘on the conservative side’.
The housewife dressed up as Elsa for Halloween, about to take her children out trick or treating; the steamy movie targeting housewives of Middle America; the hung-over, down and out, depressed self-portrait, perhaps of her husband.
Alongside these paintings plays a video piece referencing a ‘pre-midlife crisis situation’. Shot from the perspective of an aging man, clinging onto his youth, this work further highlights Shimizu’s exploration of the banalities and clichés of everyday life.