The Art of Boxing: Tomoyuki Shinki

The Arts


Tomoyuki Shinki (b. 1982, Osaka) is an outsider artist with a penchant for contact sports, namely wrestling and boxing, with some judo and Muay Thai mixed in here and there. Shinki uses a computer to draw contorted opponents, sometimes black and white but more often vividly colored. In bold cartoonish scenes, Shinki’s fighters maul, punch, grab, pull, smash, and flip each other around. The figures are hulking and muscular, and the activity leaps off the paper.


“Left Upper Cut” (2010) depicts two muscular boxers in the throes of battle. The boxer on the right makes a swooping, powerful upper cut with his left hand, following through with what could have been a crushing blow that seems to have glanced off his opponent’s cheek. The other boxer grabs for the flexing bicep, as if to steady himself. The eyes of both competitors are fierce and determined.


Shinki’s use of bold, black lines contrasts with his more well-known style of applying bright hues to his combative matches. With nothing to distract our eye, we are free to follow the dark lines through the action and over the contenders’ rippling bodies. Abundant white space around the boxers (there is no crowd, only a hint at a rope) concentrates our focus on the heaving forms. The swinging boxer, having put his energy into a knockout punch, seems to tip back under his momentum. The left-side boxer is poised for a vengeful retort. The overall effect is a focused battle scene of a twisting pair of Hercules. We eagerly anticipate the next crushing blow.


Shinki is inspired by real matches. “Left Upper Cut” looks to be based on a still from a 1985 matchup between Larry Holmes and Michael Spinks (hat tip), in which Holmes lost to Spinks after fifteen rounds by a close, unanimous decision.

This is the first in a series on the "art of boxing."



Art of Boxing, Sports