Japanese art, the impact of Paris, and the shadow of war: Takeshiro Kanokogi

Japanese art, the impact of Paris, and the shadow of war: Kanokogi

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The artist Takeshiro Kanokogi was born in the prefecture of Okayama. Luckily, for Kanokogi, the Meiji Restoration of 1868 opened up culture and society. Therefore, he had the opportunity to focus on different artistic themes and to reside in France.

One can only imagine the world of Kanokogi because his first visit to Paris occurred when he was 26 years old. Hence, within just over a decade, the First World War would begin.

Equally, he witnessed modernization and liberal periods in Japan. Yet, the last decade of his life again would witness the potency of nationalism and militarism in Japan. Thus, shortly before his death, the Paris of art and culture was once more bedeviled by war and nationalism – while Japan expanded throughout Asia.

If you turn back to his first visit to Paris then these convulsions will have been far from his mind. Instead, his focus was on the world of art and culture. Therefore, he belonged to a world that had been impacted by liberalism and the interconnection of cultures through the prism of art.

I comment in another article, “The Realism of Barbizon painters, the anti-clericalism of Jean-Paul Laurens, and the clear classicism that inspired Emile-Rene Menard opened new artistic and political concepts to Takeshiro Kanokogi.”

Kanokogi met many distinguished individuals in Paris and his world was like a parallel reality to events in the real world. Hence, while wars and colonialism blighted the world – and being alive during the First World War and the start of the Second World War; one can only imagine how this impacted on him.

Thus the last few years of his life must have been very confusing and complex for Kanokogi. After all, the Paris and impact of Western culture that appealed to him were now being rejected by communists, nationalists, and militarists alike. Therefore, a far cry from the hopes and dreams of his first visit to Paris.


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