The disasters of peace: Social discontent in the manga of Tsuge Tadao and Katsumata Susumu – Exhibited at the HONOLULU MUSEUM OF ART


The disasters of peace: Social discontent in the manga of Tsuge Tadao and Katsumata Susumu
Tsuge Tadao
Katsumata Susumu

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Art cannot exist in a vacuum, and certainly cannot be fully appreciated without the proper context; this is especially true of the Honolulu Museum of Art exhibit The Disasters of Peace: Social Discontent in the Manga of Tsuge Tadao and Katsumata Susumu, where the sketches of socially-minded manga artists Tsuge Tadao and Katsumata Susumu were on display for the first time in the United States from 30 November 2017 through 15 April 2018. Both artists use manga as a medium to explore the daily struggles faced by marginalised communities in Japan, based on their own personal experiences. Tsuge, born and raised in the slums of postwar Tokyo, offers insight into the plight of veterans and the homeless and draws on his experience working in a blood bank in the decades after the war. Katsumata was an anti-nuclear activist whose work exposed the inhumane conditions of nuclear power plant workers in Japan decades before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Stephen Salel, the museum’s Robert F. Lange Curator of Japanese Art, constructed for visitors a number of wonderfully in-depth and interactive supplementary audiovisual aids to facilitate a richer understanding of the sociological underpinnings of the exhibit. According to Salel, the curatorial intent of the exhibit was to allow visitors to relate to the difficulties and realities depicted in the featured work, and to examine how art can speak to past events around the world that might echo what other communities currently face. The Disasters of Peace presented the viewing public with an unusual opportunity to learn about the struggles of Japan’s postwar society.

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