Scholar Spotlight: The Politics of Painting: Uemura Shoen’s Bijin-ga Lecture

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan

Asato Ikeda will be presenting from her new book, “The Politics of Painting: Fascism and Japanese Art during the Second World War” (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 2018). The book examines a set of paintings produced in Japan during the 1930s and early 1940s that have received little scholarly attention. Ikeda views works by prominent artists of the time through the lens of fascism, showing their seemingly straightforward paintings of Mount Fuji, samurai, beautiful women, and the countryside supported the war by reinforcing a state ideology that justified violence in the name of the country’s cultural authenticity. In the presentation, Ikeda will focus on paintings of beautiful women by Uemura Shoen, a female Japanese-style painter.

About the Series:

The JICC Seasonal Art Lecture Series from Emerging Scholars featuring a quarterly ‘Scholar Spotlight’ focuses on new research into the Fine Arts of Japan from rising scholars in the field of Japanese art. This series provides the public with new ideas and research on a wide variety of disciplines and art objects from the ancient to the contemporary, and encourages audience engagement with the research topics.


Asato Ikeda, originally from Tokyo, Japan, received her B.A. from the University of Victoria in 2006, her M.A. from Carlton University in 2008, and her Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2012. Her research interests lie in modern Japanese art in particular and Asian art in general, and the topics of imperialism/colonialism, war, fascism, museums, sex, gender, and sexuality. Her scholarship, “The Politics of Painting: Fascism and Japanese Art during the Second World War,” was published this year (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 2018). Ikeda has also co-edited the first English-language anthology on the topic of Japanese war art, Art and War in Japan and its Empire, 1931-1960, and she has been active as a curator, keen to engage with the public about important social and political issues through art. More recently, she has curated the exhibition A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. Ikeda is currently an Assistant Professor of Art History at Fordham University in New York.

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