5th Sunagawa 砂川五番

NAKAMURA Hiroshi 中村 宏

Under the opressive, ominous leaden sky, a huge bomber squats in the distance. The panoramic picture is almost totally filled with crowds of people. At the foremost center, policemen who are ponderous and expressionless as robots, are trying to evict desperate farmers. Maps are trampled underfoot. The caricatured human figures and distorted perspective show much exaggeration. But the exaggeration is totally effective in achieving what the artist has intended, that is, to present the nameless people heroically as they confront the inhuman powers of the authorities. The movement against the expansion of Tachikawa Base, arising in Sunagawa-cho in outer areas of Tokyo, culminated in September 1955 in a confrontation between the active residents, joined by labor party members and students, and the police force. This was the Sunagawa Incident. This work, depicting this incident, is an important specimen of the so-called "Reportage Paintings" of the 1950s which were openly created as social criticism. They were the product of an art movement which advocated that it is not simple realism but an avant-garde approach based on Surrealism that can give deep social significance to a painting. But when the movement against the 1960 U.S.-Japan Security Treaty ended in failure, the artists moved on to more indirect means of expression, including vernacular Pop-Surrealism, in posing questions on the society smugly enjoying economic prosperity.rnrn
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Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
5th Sunagawa
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Oil on plywood
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