Born in Fukuoka, Japan, Zenzaburo Kojima is a highly influential figure in the Japanese modern art sphere. A self-taught artist with no formal university art education, Kojima's artistic techniques derive from his various experimentation and observation of other Japanese artists such as Yatoro Noguchi and Takeshi Hayashi. In 1925, he travelled to Paris and around Europe, visiting renowned art museums such as the Louvre in Paris and the Prado in Spain.
Nude (Lot 468) is a painting painted after Kojima returned from Europe. It is a relatively rare work by the artist as he only painted fewer than thirty nude figures throughout his oeuvre. The painting sees Kojima's exploration of Western classicism regarding its theme and presentation, while at the same time embodies elements of traditional Japanese ukiyo-e art with a flattened composition and expressive coloration. Kojima employs broad, heavy brushwork, presenting a realistic portrayal of the female body. The rosy skin tone of the woman is rendered in fine gradations, in which Kojima deliberately heightens the outlines and shadows of her figure in blacks and greys to create an intense contrast of light and shadow.
Rose (Lot 469) was painted in the early 1950s after Kojima relocated to Ogikubo, an outlying city in Tokyo. This was a time when Kojima abandoned subjects he considered as 'traditional beauty', instead he focused on still life subjects and explored the fine line that separates the balance and unbalanced. Rose, consists of a vase of roses placed on a decorative table cloth against a monochrome background. Kojima emphasises the two-dimensionality of the painting by boldly outlining his subject, using expressive colours. He juxtaposes the pinkness of the flowers against a bright turquoise blue background, emanating a sense of stillness and peaceful ambience in the painting.
Kojima successfully brings together elements of the East and the West in these two paintings, composing a highly unique and expressive artistic language of his own.