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Nakamura Hiroshi’s absolutely brutal protest art against U.S. military in Japan
06.02.2015
03:58 pm
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Nakamura Hiroshi’s absolutely brutal protest art against U.S. military in Japan


“Gunned Down,” 1957
 
The paintings of Nakamura Hiroshi follow a tragic narrative.Trained as in political realism to do reportage painting, his work became highly stylized and surreal as he covered Japanese anti-military activism. There was a mass mobilization in the 1950s, particularly among Japanese students and unions, against the expansion of U.S. military presence, including massive bases. The painting you see above depicts the death of a woman who was fatally shot by an American soldier as she collected used bullet casings. The one below shows a protest against the extension of an airstrip over land confiscated from poor farmers. 

Hiroshi covered the movement diligently and loyally, even as a commercial failure who couldn’t afford canvases. His painting, “The Base,” now considered a masterpiece, was actually done on cheap wood, the grain of which gives the piece an ominous depth. However, as the conservative government took power and made major concessions to the Americans, Hiroshi began to despair. His paintings took on apocalyptic themes, with explosive imagery and lots of red, a reference to the firebombings that destroyed his hometown when he was twelve. Though the political inspiration for his work never won out, he lived to see it lauded by the critics, and went on to produce surreal work on a developed Japan.
 

“Sunagawa #5,” 1955
 

“Sunagawa #5” (detail)
 

“The Base,” 1957
 

“The Base,” (detail)
 

“Civil War Era,” 1958
 

“On the Steps,” (cropped)
 

“Samurai in Flight,” 1960
 

“Samurai in Flight,” (detail)
 

“Omens of a Place,” 1961
 

“Red Landscape,” 1961
 

“Crashlanding,” 1963
 

“Sightseeing Empire,” 1963
 

Circular Train A (Telescope Train), 1968

Via Juxtapoz

Posted by Amber Frost
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06.02.2015
03:58 pm
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