During his time at school, Kazu Wakita became acquainted with Tameshige Shodai, a well-known Japanese artist, who gave him first guidance in charcoal drawing and oil painting. In 1923 Wakita dropped out of school to accompany his family to Berlin, where they worked for the Mitsubishi Co. In Berlin he attended Max Rabeâs painting school and in 1925 enrolled in the Berlin State School of Fine Arts in Erich Wolfsfeldâs class.
On his return home in 1927 Wakita developed an interest in photography. In the following year he resumed his studies in Berlin in etching and woodcutting. In 1930 he took part in the Freie Kunstschau (Free Art Exhibition) and graduated, receiving a gold medal from his school. Upon his fatherâs death, he took over his trading company in Tokyo, running it for the next 10 years. During this time, he opened a studio in Tokyoâs Kugahara quarter and continued to exhibit his works at various important shows, winning the first prize at the 13th Emperor Exhibition. Wakita later turned away from official exhibitions and presented his paintings at the Second Societyâs Nika Exhibitions.
In 1936, Wakita was one of the founders of the Shineisaku-ha-kyÃ´kai (New Creation Group). In 1938 he went to Shanghai in occupied China and later to the Philippines to work as a military artist, before he returned in 1944. When his studio was burned he lost most of his pre-war works. Together with some fellow painters, he was evacuated to Fujino village near Sagamiko (now Sagamihara) in Kanagawa Prefecture.
After the end of the war Wakita established a new studio in the Setagaya district, and was engaged in initiating the Japan Art Association for a democratic understanding of art. As one of the first Japanese post-war artists he participated in international exhibitions, for instance in SÃ£o Paulo, Pittsburgh and New Delhi. In 1954, a book in a series about modern Japanese painters presents the work of Kazu Wakita while his picture Arasoi (Strife) received the highest award at the 3rd Japan International Art Exhibition and the 1st Guggenheim International Art Award. Subsequently, he made lengthy visits to the United States and France.
Back in Japan, Wakita became a lecturer for printmaking at the Tokyo University of the Arts and was appointed professor in 1968. In the 1970s and 80s Wakita was honored by various exhibitions and books concentrating on his more recent works. In the 1980s he made trips abroad to the United States and various major cities in Europe. In 1991, the Wakita Museum of Art was opened in the town of Karuizawa, Nagano prefecture. The last decade of his life was marked by major exhibitions world-wide.
Wakita represented contemporary Japanese oil painting, often portraying lovely birds, flowers, and children which were a part of his daily life, his style being described by geniality, purity and warmth. After the war, a bird was often incorporated in his works, symbolizing abstract concepts such as peace and human nature. He always maintained a critical attitude to the politics of the art world.
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