Painter cap­tures pain of com­fort women

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA -

NAN­JING — French oil painter Chris­tian Poirot is vis­it­ing Nan­jing, Jiangsu prov­ince, the city whose tragic wartime his­tory in­spired him to cre­ate a new se­ries of works.

“Hon­estly, in the past, I knew noth­ing about the Nan­jing Mas­sacre or the his­tory of forced com­fort women dur­ing the Ja­panese in­va­sion of China in World War II,” the 56-yearold artist said. So-called com­fort women were sex slaves for the Ja­panese mil­i­tary.

As he trav­eled through Nan­jing sev­eral years ago, a friend told him that 300,000 Chi­nese peo­ple had been mur­dered af­ter the city fell into Ja­panese hands. He was shocked, and de­cided to ex­press his feel­ings in a paint­ing.

In De­cem­ber 2015, he do­nated a paint­ing mea­sur­ing 7.5 me­ters wide by 2.4 me­ters tall to the Memo­rial Hall of the Vic­tims in Nan­jing Mas­sacre by Ja­panese In­vaders.

The paint­ing de­picts scenes of vi­o­lence that oc­curred dur­ing the 1937-38 mas­sacre, con­fronting view­ers with the bloody or­deal suf­fered by the vic­tims.

Poirot vis­ited Nan­jing again in Septem­ber and worked out of a mu­seum built on the for­mer site of a “com­fort women” sta­tion at Liji Lane in Nan­jing to cre­ate a se­ries of works based on those events. He made three paint­ings there.

In one paint­ing, mis­er­ablelook­ing women wait for ex­am­i­na­tion while the corpses of oth­ers are piled on the ground.

“My heart was deeply touched when I looked at his­tor­i­cal pho­tos of com­fort women at the mu­seum. De­pict­ing the bit­ter­ness of their tor­tured lives is my trib­ute to those women who still live with painful mem­o­ries. I hope the work will be a call for peace for hu­mankind,” Poirot said.

He said he would con­tinue the com­fort women se­ries af­ter he re­turns to France.

Poirot plans to do­nate the paint­ings to the memo­rial hall be­fore Dec 13 to co­in­cide with the com­mem­o­ra­tion of China’s na­tional memo­rial day for vic­tims in the mas­sacre.

Poirot, who is well-known around the world for his oil paint­ings, was granted honorary cit­i­zen­ship of the city of Nan­jing in 2015.

CUI XIAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Chris­tian Poirot works on an oil paint­ing in Nan­jing.

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