Born in Fukuoka City in 1893, Kojima Zenzaburo later rose as an unparalleled pioneering leader among Japanese modernist artists. Without any formal art education on college level, Kojima’s self-exploration in art exactly unburdened him of the weight of tradition as well as the pressing urge of a complete westernization at that time. Through his study on predecessors’ works and attempts of seeking an individual approach, Kojima managed to blend Eastern and Western art skills in his paintings and then established an independent style of “Japanese Oil Painting”. In 1925, during his sojourn time in Paris (France), Kojima visited the Louvre Museum (Paris, France), Prado Museum (Madrid, Spain), as well as Rome and London. In the meantime, he was overwhelmed by the majestic marble stone sculpture of ancient Greece and Rome which paved the way for his realistic style afterwards.
Dahlias (Lot 408) was referred as a representative in his“Ogikubuo Era” by Kojima. In July 1951, in pursuit of new creative thinking and breakthrough, Kojima moved from Kokubunji to Ogikubo. Dahlias possesses intense colour preference of strong decorative and expressive force and creates an illusion of two-dimensional plane. Kojima deliberately omitted chiaroscuro (light and shade contract) and highlighted the strong colour contrast between the bright yellow tablecloth and the reddish orange background, the unadorned plain vase and the flamboyant dahlias. Such creative practice of introducing Japanese colour palette and decorative style into Western oil painting presents a “Neo-Japanese” style as Kojima had declared all the time. While another piece of Kojima’s early work during his stay in Europe, Woman Reading a Book (Lot 409) reflects a primitive influence of Cubism. With a diversified and fully orchestrated composition, the lady sitting in chair takes a great chunk of the painting; and stylistically, a particular emphasis on the weight and stereoscopy of the lady’s body is built by geometric shapes, which is a signature trait in Kojima’s work revealing his stylistic change after the trip to Europe.