A woman with a listless expression is clad in a black dress and veil, standing quietly with her eyes slightly lowered. The gauzy fabric of the dress is opened wide at the neck, beautifully accentuating her smooth white skin. From the 1920s onwards Foujita single-handedly developed his signature technique of using fine brushes to create thin, sharp lines on a milky white ground. This work was made after the end of the Second World War when Foujita was staying in New York. He was attempting to obtain a visa in order to return to France, where he had been the most successful. New York does not have buildings in a Southern European style, or cobblestone streets, so what memory was Foujita depicting in this image? One part of the painting that we should pay attention to is the frame, which Foujita also made himself. The combination of the simplistic motifs carved into the frame strikes a peculiar balance with the refined painting.
The “Kyanboshiya” in the Japanese title refers to Cambodia. However, this work does not suggest the feeling of a tropical climate. A pathway left by wheel tracks cuts between the trees, and there are no people or animals. Only the ground and sky have been painted in this gloomy scene. Foujita Tsuguharu was an artist active in the Paris art world from the 1920s onwards. He escaped and returned to Japan at the outbreak of the Second World War, just before the fall of Paris. He constantly attracted notice for his words and actions after his return, and travelled to many locations in the role of a cultural delegate, including Cambodia, which was part of Indochina under French occupation. Though he had planned to visit French-occupied Indochina again in 1943, this trip was not realized due to the worsening situation of the war. Made that same year, this work reflects Fujita’s state of mind at the time and a sense of isolation hangs in the air.