Heavy Hand 重い手

TSURUOKA Masao 鶴岡 政男

A man sits with his head down, with his huge bloated hands thrown in front of him in an interior with bare concrete beams. Another huge hand is weighing heavily down upon his shoulders, ready to crush him at any moment, but his bronze-colored limbs, looking strong and suffused with undefeatable will for life, resists the formidable weight. This painting, which is said to have been inspired by the homeless taking refuge in the underground passageways in Ueno, is acclaimed as a masterpiece which aptly captures the spiritural oppression felt by the Japanese in the postwar era. Here the artist does not simply present the despair of the oppressed, but uses the Cubistic structures in the background as a symbol of the authorities, in which the Expressionistic living flesh is placed to stand for the human existanece in bold struggle against the harsh environment. And it also symbolizes the life history of the artist himself, who through his years of poverty never gave up painting and formed the Shinjinga-kai group in rebellion against the wartime control on artists. Later, as a member of the Jiyu Bijutsu Kyokai, Tsuruoka turned from figurative painting to abstraction employing human figures satirically reduced to signs and codes, but he never ceased to investigate the human existance within a reality that was full of injustices.
Collection of
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Heavy Hand
Artist Name
Material / Technique
Oil on canvas
130(Height)×97(Width) cm
Acquisition date
Accession number

Other items of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (5506)