Toshio Bando

Toshio Bando

Biography of Toshio Bando ( 1895-1973 )

Born in a well-to-do family in Tokushima, Toshio Bando showed a definite talent for drawing and painting from an early age. Following the death of his mother, when he was barely seven years old, his father supported the boy and his artistic practices. At 18, he left to study painting in Tokyo with master Takeji Fujishima who introduced him to European painting. Over the years and through his readings, he discovered Fauvism and Cubism but did not abandon the study of traditional Japanese painting called nihonga.

Bando met his first success in 1918 at a group exhibition at the Bunden Salon (an official exhibition organized from 1907 under the authority of the Ministry of Education on the model of the French salons). The young artist's technique, already very well structured, reminded many Japanese critics of Cézanne.

Toshio Bando arrived in France in July 1922. He quickly joined the ranks of the Montparnasse school, benefiting from the friendship and immediate and unfailing support of Tsuguharu Foujita who had been living in Paris for 9 years. He shared Foujita's studio and home between 1922 and 1924. Bando was immediately introduced to the Parisian art scene and became friends with Kiki de Montparnasse, an emblematic figure of the Parisian scene and the photographer Man Ray.

Within a few years, however, Bando saw the artistic limits of his close relationship with Foujita. Indeed, Bando suffered from the constant comparison of his art with that of his compatriot. French critics too often perceived the Japaneseness of the two artists as a reason for comparison, whereas Bando was more interested in painting and Foujita in drawing. 

In 1925, Bando obtained his first contract with the prestigious Chéron Gallery, which was already showing Modigliani, Soutine and Foujita. His first exhibition at the gallery was a critical and commercial success. Gustave Kahn, Louis-Léon Martin and André Warnod, art critics of the time, supported Bando and included him among the most influential artists of the Parisian school.

But Bando's reserved personality pushed him to leave Paris in 1925 for Pierre-Fitte-sur-Seine, far from the Parisian life and its worldliness. He settled in a house surrounded by animals, which would never cease to be the privileged subjects of his paintings, and met a young pianist - the daughter of a veterinarian - who agreed to pose for him and would soon become his wife, nicknamed Toji.

When Georges Chéron died in 1931, Bando decided not to commit himself to an art dealer anymore. He moved to Villette-en-Yvelines before returning to Paris in 1938 where he took a studio on rue Bois-le-Vent in the 16th arrondissement and then on rue Nicolo where he settled with his wife.  

When his daughter Kimié was born in 1944, the artist decided to devote most of his time to her.  He gave her an artistic education that made her a talented painter. Between 1951 and 1957, the young Kimié exhibited six times, including once with her father. Unfortunately, Bando's health deteriorated in 1957, which led him to completely abandon the Parisian scene.  He would only rarely appear in exhibitions until his death in 1973. 

In the words of Ms. Toshio, "Bando's painting is noble, of great distinction and rigor, always of solid construction beneath the softness that envelops it. He is faithful to nature, his sensitivity not allowing him to mutilate it, he has never sought to 'please', nor to dominate or impose, and has never tried to 'impress' the world with unusual finds, nor has he ever allowed himself to be led into the ease to which his great skill might have led him."

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