Kazuki Yasuo

Kazuki Yasuo

Japanese, 1911 - 1974

Yasuo Kazuki was born in the city of Misumi-cho, in Yamaguchi prefecture. A shy child, whose mother abandoned the family and whose father died when he was 11, Kazuki began painting at the age of 16. In 1929, he entered the Kawabata Painting School, and from 1931-1936 studied Western-style painting under the tutelage of Tajeki Fujishima at the Tokyo Art School (now the Tokyo University of Fine Arts). While still a student, his paintings were presented at the ninth group exhibition of the Kokugakai, the National Painting Society, in 1934. He joined the Society in 1940 and would exhibit with them until 1961. In 1943, however, Kazuki was drafted for military service and soon transferred to Manchuria. In 1945 he was captured and sentenced to serve in a Siberian labor camp where, over two years, he watched many of his fellow soldiers die of starvation. His imprisonment was the inspiration for his Siberia series. Kazuki began painting two months after his release from prison and return to his home town in 1947, and his new works were exhibited at the Kokugakai the following year. In 1950 he established the Keisei-ha Artists Association and exhibited at Tokyo’s Mitsukoshi Department Store. In the years following, his work was seen internationally as well as in Japan, at the Sao Paolo Biennale (1951), at the Carnegie Institute’s First Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture (1952), and in a retrospective exhibition at the Shimonoseki City Chofu Museum (1953). In 1956, Kazuki left Japan for a year in Europe, during which he produced 80 oil paintings and 500 watercolor sketches. From 1959 on, his work was exhibited primarily in one-man shows. In 1969, he traveled to New York at the invitation of the Japan Society. A catalogue of his Siberia series was published in 1967, and the series received the Japan Art Grand Award from the Shincho Arts Foundation in 1969. In 1972 he was included in the exhibition The Development in Postwar Japanese Art—Transformation of Figurative Painting at the Tokyo National Museum of Art. Kazuki died in 1974 in Yamaguchi. The prefectural government held a public ceremony in his honor, and forty-five of the fifty-seven works in the Siberia series were donated to the Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art. In 1976, the museum organized an exhibition of these paintings that traveled to three Japanese cities.

Further Reading:

Tanaka, Atsushi, "Yasuo Kazuki," http://www.groveart.com (8/2/2001).

Kazuki Yasuo—Sono zokei to jojo no kiseki[Yasuo Kazuki—His formation and the tracks of his expression] (exh. cat., Yamaguchi, Prefect. Mus., 1981)

Gashu Kazuki Yasuo’ [Collected works of Yasuo Kazuki], Asahi shimbunsha (1979)

from Visual Art Library, The Legacy Project website; http://www.legacy-project.org/artists/display.html?ID=86
  • Japanese
  • drawing
  • drawing

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