Paintings of nude women, long established as a symbol of pure arts, was downplayed as a mere political code during a university symposium, drawing attention to this different interpretation.
During the Korea Japan Modern Art and Women Symposium held on May 31, professor Midori Wakaguwa gave a presentation entitled 'The Political Nature of Nudes in Japanese Modern Paintings.' The professor claimed that nudes, long considered apolitical and purely esthetic, was very much a political theme. Wakaguwa's claim created quite a stir in the domestic art circle.
"Why did countless artists choose the nude female body in the name of pursuing pure beauty?"
Wakaguwa points out that "nudes, which fix the eye on the female body, is not a symbol of the victory of modern esthetics but an abnormal and pathological claim of masculinity." The professor adds, "Nudes, which make passive objects out of women, became widespread because in a nation that has reached the stage of imperialism, nudes were the metaphor of the masculine strength and military prowess that invaded and colonized other countries."
Based on the theory that art in a modern state with established imperialism is extremely 'genderized,' the professor explained, "Being 'genderized' means that the theme of paintings concentrate on the woman's body."
Ultimately, "Imperialism means the rule of others using the violence unique to a male-dominated society. Thus the desire of the state is expressed through the woman's body, which is either waiting to be or has already been conquered. Imperialist states needed female nudes as their political theme."
Professor Shinobu Ikeda, another participant at the Symposium, presented an opinion about the paintings of women clad in Chinese robes that were popular in Japan from the late 1920s to 1940s. The professor said that the paintings were "an invasion project, aimed at debilitating China by identifying it with the female body," thus proving once again the political nature of the female image in arts in the imperialist era.