Opening reception will be held on Sunday, Jan. 27, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Balconi Coffee Company, 11301 Olympic Blvd. (half a block west of Sawtelle), Suite 124, Los Angeles. Business hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends.
Anzai turned 77 last year. In Japan, this is known as kijyu, one of the celebrated years marking one’s life, the year of bliss. In the Little Osaka community in West Los Angeles, he is also known as Taisho (well-respected chief or boss) by many locals and fans of his long-running “Tempura House on Sawtelle Boulevard, which he tends religiously from before dawn to mid-afternoon to accommodate the late lunch crowd.
Taisho was born in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima in 1935, on the brink of World War II. He immigrated to Brazil during the 1950s to serve for two years in agricultural farming as part of a contract with the Japanese government. From there, he lived in various villages in Colombia and Spain, setting a path to his nomadic life of over five decades, during which he sought spiritual ties.
Taisho found expression in his paintings during these wandering years. “The energy that wells up from my heart is what my art is all about…the time of day, the place I’m standing at, and the encounter with nature and people of the land…all spiritual ties in this universe,” he said.
“Following the Spirit” is a survey of Anzai’s work from three series: “Bogotá,” “Madrid,” and “Childhood Memories,” which shows rich influence from his nomadic years, adding a new palette and style to the otherwise folk-like paintings of Japan.
In recent years, Taisho has returned to his homeland in Fukushima and has re-experienced the culture and landscape of his childhood years. He says, “As long as we are alive, we should keep drawing as many great memories as possible!”