Nude Reclining on Yellow Chair
oil on canvas
128 x 94.8 cm. (50 3/8 x 37 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1931
Artist's Family Collection
Nihon Bijutsu Gakukai (ed.), New Artist Series 7- Zenzaburo Kojima, Kensetsu sha, Japan, 1930 (illustrated, plate 22, unpaged).
Atelier, Atelier, issue no. 306, Japan, 1952 (illustrated, unpaged).
Modern Art 59 Zenzaburo Kojima, Japan, 1980 (illustrated, plate 43, unpaged).
Fukuoka Art Museum, Kojima Zenzaburo Centennial Memorial Exhibition, exh. cat., Fukuoka, Japan, 1993 (illustrated, p. 81; illustrated in black & white, p. 232).
Kojima Zenzaburo Centennial Memorial Exhibition, (travelling exhibition), 14 July-8 August 1993, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan/20 August-12 September 1993, Chiba Sogo Department Store, Chiba, Japan 18 September-31 October 1993, The Museum of Modern Art Ibaraki, Ibaraki, Japan/4 January-6 February 1994, Mie Prefecture Art Museum, Mie, Japan.

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Felix Yip
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Lot Essay

Zenzaburo Kojima's artistic career began in his middle school in Fukuoka where he formed a 'palette club', for students interested in painting to come together, an act that hinted at Kojima's future as a pioneer in the Japanese art community. Essentially a self taught artist with no formal university art education, Kojima's studies came from his various experimentation and clear observation of other artists such as Yataro Noguchi and Takeshi Hayashi in Tokyo. From the perspective and translucent paint layering of Ryusei Kishida to the bold palette of C?zanne; Kojima studied, reflected and analyzed the works of his seniors to discover an artist vocabulary of his own. Traveling to Paris in 1925, Kojima meandered through the Louvre, Spain's Prado Museum, Rome and London where the colossal Roman and Greek marble statues would later influence his paintings of nudes and figures as we see in Nude Reclining on a Yellow Chair (Lot 1006), of 1931. When he returned to Japan armed with the knowledge of Western art, Kojima took to revolutionizing the oil painting ideals in Japan, not to strive to paint like the great artists of the West, but to develop 'Japanese oil painting' as a free standing and credible style to ultimately became an indisputable leader in Japanese modern art.
While having exhibited at the Nikakai, Kojima ultimately shifted his attention towards the Dokuritsu Bijutsu kyokai (Independent Association of Artists) in Japan where he encouraged fellow young artists to purposefully move away from the "French Art world which has dominated the art world for over 100 years". This ambitious aspiration reveals that Kojima's sole intention in Europe was to study and not imitate the works of the West. Kojima's enduring enthusiasm for a unique style is evident in Nude Reclining on a Yellow Chair (Lot 1006), where the painting executed with broad, heavy strokes and at times streaks of paint directly from paint tubes embodies the zeal that willingly overflowed from the artist's hand.
According to the Fuchu Art Museum exhibition catalogue of Kojima's works in 2007, Kojima stopped painting nude figures after the 1930s due to the lack of models and focused primarily on painting landscapes and still lifes. Within his oeuvre, less than 30 nudes have been recorded in his Centennial Memorial exhibition catalogue, few in comparison to his paintings of scenic views. Executed during a crucial turning point in the artist's stylistic developments, we begin to see how the heavily triangular composition and weighted feel of the sculptures he saw in Europe combine with the more delicate artistic practices of Japan that we see later in his landscapes. Combined with the cubist quality of great Western painters, the form is at once sculptural, abstract and simplified. Reminded of the monumental sculptures of the museums in Europe, Kojima noted the importance of how his rendered female forms should possess the same weight and presence as sculptures themselves and effectively conveys this in his painting. Feminine yet powerful, Kojima presents his female nude with the vigor and fervor within himself.
Kojima does not shy away from applying colors filled with emotion, and here unleashing it with utmost boldness. While the rosy flesh of the woman is rendered in fine gradations, Kojima uses strokes of flat black to define the eyes and shadow, executing it with the swiftness and purposefulness of calligraphy and ink painting. The striking chair in which she casually poses is also half rendered three dimensionally yet seamlessly blends into the flatness of the patterned wall behind. In the pattern of the flowered wallpaper we find Kojima's inclusion of Eastern art influences of Rimpa and nanga "the Southern school" of literati painting practiced in China, and his inclination towards still life and landscape painting. In the textures, colors and balanced form of the square seat, round cushion and her pyramidal form, Kojima beautifully brings together elements he feels important in his artistic vocabulary, simply borrowing fundamentals from his studies in Europe to his greater understanding of Japanese art and revealing a style that is truly uniquely his own. The woman in Nude Reclining on a Yellow Chair thus is at once modern yet contemporary, universal yet Japanese and exemplifies Kojima's desire to come back to Japan to revolutionize oil painting and enhance his own artistic creativity.
Zenzaburo Kojima's works have been collected in over 15 renowned museums such as the Yokosuka Museum of Art; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; The Museum of Modern Art Kamakura & Hayama; The Bridgestone Museum and The Fukuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, strengthening his status as a pioneer in modern Japanese painting.

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