SHINKICHI TAJIRI Dutch-American, 1923-2009


Primarily a sculptor, Tajiri (b. 1923 Los Angeles, USA – d. 2009 Baarlo, The Netherlands) also made a number of award-winning films, videos, photographic series, works on paper and latterly, Computer Art.


Residing in The Netherlands from 1956 onwards, he was a child of first-generation immigrants to the USA from Japan, and grew up in the U.S. Following the Japanese attack in Hawaii the Tajiri family were one of many who were detained in a US internment camp and lost their family home. More to escape the camp than out of Patriotism Tajiri enlisted in the all-Japanese American regiment of the American Army. His recurrent imagery of the Knot and The Warrior and these themes of war and violence were a way of Tajiri crystalising the horrors he had personally experienced. Documenting the Berlin wall would later become a central project for him.


In 1949 he moved to Paris and studied with Ossip Zadkine and Fernand Léger. He met Karel Appel and Corneille in Paris and showed at the 1949 CoBrA exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. In 1951 he went to Germany and taught at the Werkkunstschule Wuppertal. He exhibited at the famous Kassel II. documenta, 1959; III, 1964 and IV in 1968.


In 2018 the artist was included in the Reina Sofia exhibition in Madrid, Loved, Lost and Loose in Paris: Foreign Artists in Paris 1944-1968.