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Sueo Serisawa (1901-1987)
Japanese/American

Sueo Serisawa became known as one of the leading figures in the Los Angeles based school of Modernism. Associated with the likes of Dan Lutz, Richard Haines, Millard Sheets, and Francis De Erdely, Sueo Serisawa helped position the West Coast as a fertile and revolutionary art center. An ambitious and talented artist, Serisawa exhibited in national shows and eventually won international recognition.

Born in Yokohama, Japan on April 10, 1910 Sueo Serisawa was the son of artist Yoichi Serisawa. After moving to Los Angeles in 1918, he became ingrained in the California art scene. Perfecting his craft as a draughtsman and painter, Serisawa studied at Otis Art Institute and the Art Institute of Chicago. Serisawa became an instructor himself, teaching at Kahn Art Institute, Scripps College, and the Laguna Beach School of Art. Upon the U.S. entry into the war, Serisawa as a Japanese immigrant, became fearful of forced internment on the West Coast. He and his family moved to New York City until 1947 when they were able to safely return to Los Angeles. Serisawa spent the rest of his life in California, teaching and painting.

Serisawa's early work was comprised of portraiture, landscapes, and still life paintings. But soon, many of his pieces began to reflect a critical political commentary of the ensuing World War. One of his most recognized pieces, Nine O’clock News, 1939 depicts a clock and a newspaper symbolizing the moment in history when it was announced that the invasion of Poland had begun.

Sueo Serisawa was a prolific and well regarded artist. In the late 1950s he began experimenting with alternative concepts of representational art and was soon represented by one of the West Coast's most renowned galleries, Dalzell Hatfield. Here, he exhibited alongside fellow West Coast Modernists Dan Lutz, Frances de Erdely, Richard Haines, and Dorr Bothwell. As he became more involved with Modernist school in Los Angeles, his paintings began to reflect the modernist aesthetics of abstraction and cubism. Implementing elements of fragmentation and abstracted geometric forms Serisawa and his colleagues rejected the decorum of previously held artistic traditions. Experimental elements like variations in spatial planes, form, and color flavored this period of Serisawa's work and for the first time in history the West Coast became a thriving art center in the realm of American art.

 


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