Review of The Art of Kozu; James Edgecombe; Sandstone Press 2014; pp 130
- Shana Susan Ninan
A straightforward cover with a Kimono-clad woman looking towards the hills greets us as we take up James Edgecombe’s The Art of Kozu. In two parts, the author gives realistic details of the life of Kuzo and Yumiko. The Takayanagi family of art dealers has long been associated with the artist Yuichiro Kozu (1878-1953). With the war over interest is renewed in the art of Kozu. A painting is used as the basis for the story, and unravels word by word, image by image.
Indochina during the Japanese occupation and Paris are the two areas where the story is based. Almost 20 years of art and conflict is depicted in this short novel. The power and influence of the two are portrayed through the lives of the protagonists. This controversial artist’s struggle for acceptance and uncorrupted recognition forms an undercurrent in the two sections.
Edgecombe’s words are evocative, visual and highly appealing to our senses. One gets the feeling of gliding on the surface of a painting, taking in the hues and the smells. Representation of Yumiko, the married lover, is done stunningly well. Yumiko stands for everything that’s desirable and, sometimes, forbidden. The romantic imagery and soulful prose guide the reader seamlessly through the years as the author takes us into times of war, struggle, love and separation.