Kenji Yoshida’s monumental works consist of ethereal gold, silver and precious metals on canvas which unite a restrained tradition of Japanese applique work with that of an abstract modernist aesthetic. Yoshida first studied art under Kiyoshi Hayashi before the outbreak of World War II. Selected for training as a kamikaze pilot, Yoshida was extremely lucky to survive his teens. It was under the weight of many such memories, that Yoshida returned to his art. From that point onwards the majority of Yoshida’s work carried the single, most telling of all titles, Sei-Mei - La Vie - Life. In 1964, Yoshida left Japan permanently and moved to Paris, the acknowledged centre of Modernism. This move brought Yoshida’s work into the great movements of the time. He was confronted by the heady shock of the Abstract Expressionists, in particular Rothko and Motherwell, who both employ similarly abstract forms in striving for the transcendent spirituality that characterises Yoshida’s art.
In 1993, Yoshida became the first living artist ever to be given a solo exhibition at the Japanese Galleries of the British Museum, London, UK. October Gallery has shown regular exhibitions of Yoshida’s work since the late 1980s, the most recent being in 2015. His contribution to the exchange of culture between Japan and the West was acknowledged in a special programme broadcast by NHK (the Japanese National Broadcasting Service) in August 2010, timed to coincide with the commemorative services for the cessation of the Pacific War.
‘I paint to tell people about the critical importance of Life and Peace. Life brightens the most when Peace occurs. Peace is supreme beauty.’