|The October Gallery begins 2004 with an exhibition of new paintings - including large-scale panel pieces - by the well-known Japanese artist, Kenji Yoshida. This will be his third solo show at the Gallery.|
Born in 1924, in Ikeda City (part of present-day Osaka) Yoshida studied art under the great Hayashi Kiyoshi and also Furukido, before those studies were interrupted by the war. Selected for training as a kami-kaze pilot, Yoshida was extremely lucky to survive his teens - though the majority of his close friends were not so fortunate. After the close of hostilities, the memory of the traumatic experience of having walked so near to death spurred Yoshida to throw himself single-mindedly into his art again, and devote himself to a sustained exploration of the life-affirming forces that he had seen so nearly extinguished. From that point onwards the majority of his work has carried the single, most telling of all titles, "Sei-Mei" - the Japanese word for life itself.
In 1964, Yoshida moved to Paris where he has lived ever since, and where he enjoys an enviable reputation both as a brilliant print-maker and for the intense works of oil on canvas that synthesise traditional Japanese gold and silver-leaf appliqué techniques with his boldly original sense of colour. In 1993, the quality of Yoshida's work was recognised when he was honoured to be the first living artist ever to be given a solo exhibition at the Japanese Galleries of the British Museum. During this Autumn's Festival of Canterbury his magnificent octagonal installation, Sei-mei, can be seen in Canterbury Cathedral.
Whilst at first sight these works might appear as quite modern abstractions, examined more closely they reveal themselves to be a continuing series of attempts to depict, in two dimensions, the complex interplay of ever-shifting forces, the evolving result of which we recognise to be the irrepressible force of "life." Yoshida's marvellous canvases can be construed as momentary apperceptions of reality, unique intuitions made manifest by the power of the artist's vision, glimpses that allow his audience access to the serene beauty of an otherwise invisible series of linked progressions. Again, another way to read the still unfolding series of Yoshida's whirling vortices of colour, is as subtle evocations of the repeating iterations of Yin and Yang held balanced in time and space and rendered momentarily visible.