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signed in Japanese (lower left); signed, titled and inscribed in Japanese (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
117 x 91 cm. (46 1⁄4 x 35 3⁄4 in.)
Painted in 1942
Estate of the Artist
Christie's Hong Kong, 26 May 2012, lot 2015
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Zenzaburo Kojima Exhibition, exh. cat., Tokyo Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Tokyo, 1972 (illustrated, plate 36).
Modern Japanese Art No. 10: Zenzaburo Kojima, Shueisha Publishing, Tokyo, 1975 (illustrated twice, plate 20, p. 116).
Zenzabro Kojima Exhibition, exh. cat., Fukuoka Cultural Centre, Fukuoka, 1976 (illustrated, plate 49).
Asahi Shimbun Special Issue: Zenzaburo Kojima, Asahi Shimbun Publishing, Tokyo, 1982 (illustrated, plate 35).
Zenzaburo Kojima Exhibition, exh. cat., Nara Sogo Art Museum, Nara, 1989 (illustrated, plate 34, p. 43).
Kojima Zenzaburo: Centennial Memorial Exhibition, exh. cat., Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, 1993 (illustrated, p. 134; illustrated in black & white, p. 247).
Kojima Zenzaburo: Creator of the Japanese Oil Painting, exh. cat., The Shoto Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1998 (illustrated, p. 88).
Toshio Kojima (ed.), Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Painting Works of Zenzaburo Kojima, Zenzaburo Kojima c/o Gallery Kojima, 2012 (illustrated, plate 553, p. 56).
Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, The Twelfth Dokuritsu Exhibition, March 1942.
Tokyo, Tokyo Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Zenzaburo Kojima Exhibition, 1972.
Fukuoka, Fukuoka Cultural Centre, Zenzabro Kojima Exhibition, 14 November - 5 December 1976.
Nara, Nara Sogo Art Museum, Zenzaburo Kojima Exhibition, 1989.
Fukuoka, Fukuoka Art Museum, Kojima Zenzaburo: Centennial Memorial Exhibition, 14 July - 8 August 1993. This exhibition later travelled to Chiba, Chiba Sogo Department Store, 20 August - 12 September 1993; Ibaraki, The Museum of Modern Art Ibaraki, 18 September - 31 October 1993; Odakyu Museum, 17 November-5 December 1993; Mie, Mie Prefecture Art Museum, 4 January - 6 February 1994.
Tokyo, The Shoto Museum of Art, Kojima Zenzaburo: Creator of the Japanese Oil Painting, 10 October - 23 November 1998.
Tokyo, Fuchu City Museum, Pastoral Splendour: Kojima Zenzaburo, 2 June - 16 July 2007. This exhibition later travelled to Fukuoka, Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, 22 July - 26 August 2007.
Further details
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Toshio Kojima.

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Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡) Senior Vice President, Deputy Head of Department

Lot Essay

Longed for a pastoral life away from the city, the artist Zenzaburo Kojima moved to the rural area of Kokubunji, west of Tokyo city, in 1936. Starting from that year up until 1945, the end of the Second World War is a period known as the 'Kokubunji Period' of the artist. The artist enjoyed years of good health during those days, which gave him an abundance of creative energy as he started to shift his painting subjects to landscape and still life. Through simplified and purist forms, Kojima probed the cultural bedding that has fostered the traditional oriental practice of painting, leading him to another peak in his career. Chrysanthemum, painted in 1942, is a representative of Kojima's production in this period. The same year it was displayed in the 12th Dokuritsu Exhibition held in the City Museum of Tokyo. Since then it has been widely exhibited in cities like Tokyo, Nara and Fukuoka, having a place in many of Kojima's solo exhibitions and most of the monographs on the artist.

In Chrysanthemum, the flowers and the vase in the middle constitute the vertical axis of the work, while the desktop is made the horizontal axis. Such an orderly spatial structure engenders a sedate, restful and peaceful ambience in the painting. The vivid, highly contrastive colours, on the other hand, emanate a tang of gracefulness and gaiety. The artist, with his consummate skills, introduces the Rimpa style and the Ukiyo-e colours into his oils, achieving what he dubbed "Neo-Japanism". The Ukiyoe woodblock prints considerably influenced Henri Matisse's concept of colour: 'Colour exists in itself, and for itself. It has its own beauty -this is the truth the Japanese Ukiyo-e reveals.' Kojima, too, has availed of the two-dimensionality and strong contrasting effect of Ukiyoe colours, furnishing Chrysanthemum with the splendid Rimpa colouration. The work displays a highly decorative orientation: the accentuated expressive power of colours, two-dimensionality and a sense of flatness. In like manner the contrast between light and shadow is deliberately curtailed; this, however, plays up the juxtaposition between colours, especially the light orange of the tablecloth and the bright green of the background. The plain, pleasantly old-fashioned clay vase is yet another contrast to the vibrant, almost kaleidoscopic chrysanthemums. The artist, moreover, has departed from the realistic depiction of still-life -the flowers and the vase, for example, are given geometrical shapes, and the desk is depicted by a curled, uneven line against the green background - but turned to the representation of his subjective judgment of beauty.

A highly influential figure in the Japanese modern art sphere, Kojima is wont to give young artists advice, urging them, in particular, to be brave enough to cut off from 'the French style, which has dominated the world for over a hundred years'. It is then obvious that Kojima's 'Western learning' is a simple acquisition, never an imitation. He insisted on establishing an idiosyncratic style for his Western paintings, one that is embedded with the essence of Eastern art, which is often a deviation from the objective, realistic world. For Eastern artists, materiality is just a means; the ideal has always been to communicate a spiritual realm, and the sensation and aura within, through representation. Viewers are prompted to cross the threshold of a particular spirituality and aesthetical experience. We will find this very quality of Eastern art overwhelming in the works of Kojima, which are highly expressive and incorporeal. Chrysanthemum, being a representative, is unique as an amalgam of different Asian aesthetic elements. Kojima, by introducing into modern oils the traditional Japanese colours, decorative style, and even the quaintness of ancient Japanese pottery, has produced an archetype of the 'japanisation' of Western oil painting, from which the Asian art evolves and burgeons. It does not come as a surprise, then, that Kojima is appraised as 'the Creator of the Japanese Oil Painting'.

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