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Tatsuo Ikeda, Japanese anti-war artist, is dead at 92

Tatsuo Ikeda, known for his harrowing works based on World War II, has died in November at the age of 92. His death was announced by Fergus McCaffrey, the gallery that represented him.

Ikeda was born in 1928 in Saga Prefecture, Japan. He was selected as a kamikaze pilot in 1943, but the war ended before he could be deployed for a mission. He later moved to Tokyo to study at the Tama Art University. However, WWII left a deep impact on his mind and most of his works reflected that. The black-and-white and muted colours used in his works referred to the devastating horrors of war and corrupting nationalism.

Post-war aggressions of the United States in Japan, including the thermonuclear tests in the Pacific, too influenced Ikeda’s works. Between 1955-60, Ikeda created Geneology of Monsters and One Hundred Masks. Ikeda also observed with American soldiers closely, often drawing their portraits to earn himself some money.  Between 1963-64, Ikeda created his “Elliptical Space” series which was inspired by the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security that was signed between USA and Japan in 1960, finally ending the hostilities in the country.

Tatsuo Ikeda | Fergus McCaffrey
Tatsuo Ikeda, file photo

After 1963, Tatsuo Ikeda focused more on the complex mechanisms of the human body and its relation to the world. He explored it in the Toy World and Brahman series. He also collaborated with Ikko Narahara, the Japanese postwar photographer who also died earlier this year. In past few years, Ikeda’s works have been displayed at MMA (New York), Hiroshima MOCA (Japan), Fergus McCaffrey (New York, St. Barth) and Fuma Contemporary (Tokyo), among others.