East meets West in Tetsugoro Yorozu’s art world

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In an age of rapid modernization and globalisation, we are still aware of the gaps between cultures across the world. There are still unique cultural traits that are indicative of the diverse groups of people that inhabit the earth. Crossing some of the cultural boundaries can be challenging, but Japanese artist Tetsugoro Yorozu has worked hard to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western art.

Tetsugoro Yorozu (1885 – 1927) was a Japanese painter. His work was conceptually challenging and considered Avant-Garde as he did a cross over between East and West art styles. The Museum of Modern Art in New York is housing a large collection of Tetsugoro’s work. Over 400 of his cubism meets Japan work is being displayed on the walls of this fine establishment.

Father of Hybrid Japanese Art

Leaning Woman (1917) by Tetsugoro Yorozu.

Leaning Woman (1917) by Tetsugoro Yorozu.

Tetsugoro was the pioneer of hybrid art in the early 20th Century. The collection at the Museum of Modern Art showcases works of art throughout his life, where he experiments with different styles and mediums. He came from the countryside of Japan to Tokyo in 1906, before embarking to San Francisco. But instead of taking up his art studies in the States, he returned that same year to be enrolled in the Department of Western Art at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.

In the early days, his art was evocative of the soft impressionist. But as he grew older and more confident, he started experimenting more with Western art movements. This ranged from Post-Impressionism, Fauvism and finally, Cubism.

His most famous artworks were inspired by Picasso himself. Although he studied the work of European artworks, he was still framed by his Japanese context. “Leaning Woman” was one of his more well-known Japanese-meets-Cubism artworks, distorted perceptions and proportions, but was chiefly influenced by nanga art. Nanga (literati painting), are the traditional Japanese style of painting with black in on a scroll, depicting events of everyday life.

The latest addition of Tetsugoro’s artwork to the Museum of Modern History is to commemorate the Asian-Western fusion of artwork, and coincides with the artists passing 90 years ago.