Still Life

Kadowaki--Still Life.JPG

Dublin Core



We approach this still life obliquely, as a momentary and almost casual glimpse of domestic space: a covered table is pushed against the wall, next to a door frame, holding a few everyday objects set down in passing. Yet each of them points beyond the frame with unanswered questions. What is the apple doing here? What book is being read? And most urgently, what is inside the envelope mailed to “Mr. R. Kadowaki” at his Hell’s Kitchen address? Does the conspicuous dead leaf nearby signal some great disappointment? Regardless of what we don’t know, the plant at center has mass and its shadow is rendered in a distinctive tone—less a shadow than that of a spirit.

About the Artist: Born Tokorogo, Japan, Kadowaki immigrated to Seattle, WA in 1909, giving as his profession a tailor for the famous Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo. He appears to have lived in California shortly after arrival. As of 1917, he was a waiter at an Oyster Bay, NY restaurant; in 1920 he was butler to the son of a US Vice President in Wayne, NJ; in 1930 he was servant to a Murray Hill attorney; in 1940 he was a cook. These occupations all were considered appropriate for Japanese immigrants, and yet Kadowaki persisted in his art. While in California he took classes at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design, exhibiting there in 1910; while in New York, he took classes at the Art Students League and exhibited at the ACA Gallery and Salons of America. In 1926 he designed a whimsical cockatoo light made of celluloid. After the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor, he was one of seven (along with NDG artist Thomas Nagai) to sign and publish a “Declaration of Japanese-American Artists”: “Let us express here and now our tremendous anxiety for national defense of America; our determination to support it to our utmost as artists and men, and further, to bear arms if necessary to ensure the final victory for the Democratic forces of the world. Whether a Fascist calls himself German, Italian, or Japanese, he is part and parcel of the same plot against all mankind.” Kadowaki became a US citizen in 1953.

Source Consulted: Ruth L. Benjamin, “Japanese Painters in America” Parnassus 7.5 (October 1935): 13–15.


Kadowaki, Motoichi (“Roy”), 1885-1981








Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Oil painting

Physical Dimensions

24 x 31 in.
Condition: peeled paint, surface dirt