Many people have heard of the ill effects brought about by nuclear weapons but have never really seen the horrors it causes its victims. 75-year old Kunio Iizuka has captured the devastation and monstrosity of nuclear energy and warfare in his artwork and he hopes to inspire a new generation of artists dedicated to showing its effects through their creations.
The U.S. based artist has been creating anti-nuclear paintings in his Brooklyn, New York studio for 30 years. The chairman of the Japanese Artists Association of New York moved to the United States in 1961 after finishing high school in his native country. Born in Tokyo, Iizuka began his painting career in 1964 on a wider theme of “humans and civilizations.” His interest in nuclear weapons came in 1971 after he met his father on a visit to Japan. Iizuka’s parents never married and it was an emotional experience for him to meet his father in Nagasaki when he returned. Nagasaki was a victim of nuclear warfare during the Second World War when U.S. troops dropped an atomic bomb on it and in another city, Hiroshima, that nearly obliterated both from the Japanese map. During his visit, his father took him to the Nagasaki International Culture Hall, now known as the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, and showed him the photos of people, mostly children burned by the atomic bomb. His father told him that he was also exposed to the radiation of the atomic bomb as a day after the explosion, he went to the city to search for survivors. The event caused his father to detest the United States.
Upon returning to the U.S., what he saw in the museum affected him greatly and it caused him to dislike nuclear warfare. This led to him painting about its horrors as a way to begin an “anti-atomic bomb” campaign. His works “Flame Nagasaki” and “Fallout Hiroshima” were completed in five years. Both paintings are 2 meters in height and 4.5 meters in width. The paintings were part of an exhibit by Iizuka held at the lobby of the UN in 1995. Iizuka, who’s not getting any younger, is considering to stop painting. But his legacy will continue in the works of 10 Japanese artists, who are also focused on creating art depicting the horrible effects of nuclear warfare. He believes that the young artists will continue painting after “inheriting his ideas against atomic bombs and nuclear power plants.”
[via The Asahi Shimbun]