We’ve written before about Tsuyoshi Ozawa’s work, which examines themes of war, history, power, and choice. In his current exhibit, The Return of Painter F, he’s created a story in 8 paintings from the perspective of a fictional painter.

In the exhibition, Painter F was drafted to Indonesia in 1943 during the war, when Indonesia was under Japanese occupation. Although the character is fictional, much of Painter F’s life is based on a historical figure, Tsuguhara Foujita, a well-known Japanese painter of the 20th century.

Foujita was commissioned by the Japanese military to create war paintings—propaganda. When the war ended, Foujita began to question the role of war painters, then moved to Paris and never returned to Japan. The Return of Painter F examines the choices Foujita made surrounding his painting and offers several possible corresponding outcomes for the fictional Painter F. In the final panels of the exhibition, versions of Painter F return to Japan as well as staying in Indonesia indefinitely. A core intention of the exhibit is to stimulate questions on the role of artists in future wars. On this, Ozawa says, “I’m not a prophet, but history repeats. It’s better to have consciousness that war may happen.”

For the project, Ozawa traveled to Indonesia to collaborate with artists there. Ozawa sketched out scenes from his intended story, then hired street painters from Jakarta to execute them. Ozawa retouched and altered the final paintings for the final exhibition. The exhibit also includes a music film, created by Ozawa and filmed in Indonesia. The song uses lyrics Ozawa wrote, which were translated to Bahasa Indonesia. It outlines the story of the exhibition and was performed by traditional Indonesian musicians.

Photos of gallery by Shizune Shiigi.

For more information, visit Shiseido Gallery