"A naked officer with a sword and in military boots
National Guardsmen with broken arms and legs
Sick soldiers rushing out of their beds
Covering themselves in blankets
Dead silence on the earth
Suddenly a crazy soldier shouted
"Listen, the B-29! The airplane!"
And wounded and maddened horses ran amuck
On a bridge near the Dome, also dead were
A black and a white American
In steel handcuffs
They had come to bombard this land
Then were captive in the army barracks
And the atomic bomb killed them as well
A mushroom cloud blown up from hell
Several thousand feet high up into the heavens
The spreading cloud made black rain and swept
In torrents through the clear sky
And darkened was the sky
But lo! A rainbow soon appeared
Brightly shining in the seven colors."
These lines were penned in February 1950, five years after the
US air force dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Japanese artists Iri Maruki (1901-95) and Toshi Maruki
(1912-2000), who witnessed the bombing, wrote these lines when they
created the first of their 15-part paintwork "Hiroshima Panels,"
which took another 32 years to complete.
For each panel of the paintings, the anti-war couple posted
paragraphs like the one above called "Rainbow."
From today, visitors to the National Art Museum of China in
downtown Beijing can see six of the "Hiroshima Panels" on display.
They are included in an ongoing international art exhibition
organized by the museum to commemorate the 60th anniversary of
victory in China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression
(1937-45) and the end of World War Two (1939-1945).
"For the past 12 months, we have been preparing for the grand
exhibition which occupies all nine exhibition halls on the ground
floor of the museum," said Feng Yuan, director of the museum.
"Why are we opening the exhibition on September 2? Because it is
a date of historic significance, a date we Chinese shall never
forget, a date peace-loving people from all over the world shall
On September 2, 1945, General Hsu Yung-chang, on behalf of
China, signed Japan's two Instruments of Surrender on board USS
Missouri in the Tokyo Bay.
The same day, the Japanese troops were also forced to surrender
to the Eighth Route Army at Zaozhuang, east China's Shandong
The hard-earned victory over fascism and Japanese aggression in
1945 was the first victory ever, in a real sense, for the Chinese
people since the Opium War, Feng said. "By exhibiting their works,
the participating Chinese and foreign artists will give viewers a
chance to ponder a tragic period in Chinese history and in human
Running until September 18, the exhibition is divided into six
The first section, titled "Sound of the Century," displays about
100 selected works by contemporary Chinese artists and by a group
of foreign artists from Japan, Russia, South Korea, Germany, the
Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and the US, in various genres. Some of
these works will be collected by the museum, Feng said.
"Although I was born after the war against fascism ended, I
learned a lot about the sufferings during wartime from older
generations. I understand from the depth of my heart that it is a
great happiness for one to be able to live in peaceful times," said
Xie Zhigao, a veteran artist of Chinese ink figure paintings. His
imposing mixed media work titled "Chinese People are Unconquerable"
is included in the first section of the exhibition.
The second section, titled "Blade of the Time," features 155
selected woodblock prints created by senior Chinese artists in the
liberated areas, in the areas ruled by the Kuomintang, and in the
areas occupied by Japanese invaders, during the anti-Japan war.
"The black-and-white woodblock prints embody the adversity and
cruelty of that war. They are also a testament to the role art
serves during times of national misfortune and grieving," said Feng
"The woodblock print is a simple but powerful art form. It is a
direct media, a democratic media that is easy to use and easy to
comprehend," said Edward Bernstein, a professor with Indiana
University, the US, who has been invited to participate in the
The third section, titled "Heroic Eulogy," offers viewers some
of the best-known and most powerful artistic works from the
collection of the museum.
These works were created by senior Chinese artists 60 years ago
to express their yearning for peace.
Most eye-catching among the exhibits are "Refugees (1943)" by
master painter Jiang Zhaohe, or Chiang Chao-Ho (1904-86), and
"Bombing of Chongking (1940)" by another great artist Wu Zuoren
Invading Japanese airplanes bombed Southwest China's Chongking
(Chongqing) repeatedly between February 1938 and August 1943.
At the end of 1939, Wu's first wife Li Na died while giving
birth amid the Japanese air raids. Days later, the baby also
In June 1940, Wu's apartment in Chongqing was destroyed by
Japanese air bombs and many of his paintings were burnt in the
Wu made sketches of what he saw in bombed Chongqing and in the
late 1940 created his anti-Japanese aggression trilogy "Mother
Under the Air Raid," "Life Cannot Be Destroyed," and "Bombing of
The fourth section features six episodes from the "Hiroshima
The two Japanese artists of the panels went to Hiroshima on
August 6, 1945, immediately after the atomic bomb exploded. They
witnessed the devastation with their own eyes.
Their art works have previously been shown to Chinese viewers in
1956 and 1981.
"Some Japanese people are trying to erase their memories of
history 60 years ago. We hope the exhibition of 'Hiroshima Panels'
worldwide will remind people of a tragic page in human history and
make them embrace peace and harmony," said Okamura Yukinori, a
curator with the Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels in
For quite some time there have been few Japanese artists like
the Maruki couple who have dared to recognize their social
responsibility in calling for peace and remind people of a shameful
history, he said.
After the 9/11 terror attacks in the US, however, more and more
Japanese artists have come forward with anti-war, anti-terror
works. Exhibitions of this kind are not rare in today's Japan, he
The fifth section of the exhibition, titled "Blood and Tears of
a Nation," offers viewers a rare chance to see a series called "The
Miners" by the well-known Chinese woman artist Zhou Sicong
Done using innovative ink skills, the paintings depict the
horrifying life of Chinese miners in northeast China, which was
occupied by Japanese invaders between 1931 and 1945. Zhou's
paintings were partly inspired by the "Hiroshima Panels," said Feng
The last section of the exhibition, titled "Calling for Peace,"
displays the draft models for 60 prize-winning sculptures by
contemporary Chinese artists in recent years. The sculptures have
been touring Chinese cities since June 18, when an exhibition of
anti-war sculptures was held in Changchun, Jilin Province.
(China Daily September 2, 2005)