Risaburo Kimura, London, 1973
Risaburo Kimura (b.1924) is a Japanese-American artist who has work in many major museums throughout the world. Kimura was born in Yokosuka, Japan in the Kanagawa Prefecture on the Eastern coast. He studied art in Kanagawa at Yokohama University, then in Tokyo at Hosei University. Kimura moved to New York in 1963 to pursue his career as an artist. Beginning in the late 60s, he embarked on his best known project, the "Great Cities of the World" series. Consisting of over 400 different urban scenes, the series comprises the artists impressions of many world cities, and draws on Japan's history of printmaking by using lithographs and serigraphs (silkscreens). The works demonstrate significant visual range, from New York to Amsterdam, Paris, New Orleans and Tokyo. Kimura's view of London stands out from these other members of the series. The piece has a very different impression than the fantastical New Orleans or the metaphorical New York. Here London looks simultaneously shining and disintegrating; it is futuristic while evoking visual traditions of many cultures, particularly Arabian imagery. Kimura cut these silkscreen prints himself, and it is easy to feel the artist's hand here. The imagery is so immediate and gripping. Although the buildings appear to be melting, the shapes of the landmarks remain. Against the metallic yellow sky filled with popping stars, and the quilt-like green ground, the buildings stand both out of place and in harmony with the surroundings. Kimura makes the buildings appear like a natural element in an alien landscape, but we can recognize it as a familiar skyline rendered with the intense gleam of the modern world.