Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Finding Fulfillment in War: The "Homecoming" of Fujita Tsuguharu (aka Léonard Foujita)

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Mahogany, First Floor

Famed in Paris even before World War One, though barely eking out an existence at first, friends with major artists of the day including Modigliani and Picasso, Fujita Tsuguharu (1886-1968) eventually achieved commercial success painting women, cats and self-portraits. Caught in Paris by war in 1939, against his wishes he was cajoled into returning to Japan. Facing alienation in exile, whether in Paris, Brazil, or wherever his travels took him, in Japan and the theatres of Japan's war, whether in person or in his imagination, Fujita developed, through painful trials, an ability to render War in all its horrors in oils on huge canvases. Back "home" he sought the Japanese within himself by plunging into the maelstrom of war's violence. After initially attempting merely to record battles or events, he created brutal new ways to evoke Humanity in the suffering and sacrifice which others sought to disguise or beautify. Scenes such as "Attu Gyokusai," shocking in their violence, became weapons wielded by the State to continue Japan's War, but for Fujita, they were his artistic apotheosis, embodying his quest to portray justified death, transcending official slogans, as he wrote for fellow artists during the war. Crowds viewing his works often stopped to pray before them, feeling themselves transported to the Front where their loved ones died. Postwar, rejected together with the war-makers' values, Léonard Foujita sought solace in France, his major works seized by the occupying enemy. Today, most are not available for public viewing, locked away in Museum vaults.

Haruko Taya. Cook

William Paterson University, United States


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3 - Finding Fulfillment in War: The "Homecoming" of Fujita Tsuguharu (aka Léonard Foujita)

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