From "Yoshiro Sanbonmatsu: A Political Retrospective (1991-2004)," at the Gallery of Social & Political Art at the Community Church of Boston, Copley Square, June 31-July 5, 2004.
"At a time when the many, los pobres, suffer and die in obscurity; when war and atrocity bleed from every headline; when democracy and freedom are treated with contempt by the powerful, are reduced to slogans and emptied of every genuine significance; the individual human being feels powerless and alone. So great is the suffering, so vast the injustices, that we grasp in vain for adequate words to convey our sorrow. And so our tongues fall silent.
"Hence the socially and spiritually redemptive quality of Yoshiro Sanbonmatsu’s political art. His unadorned expressions of outrage and grief at the inhumanity of the human world paradoxically has the effect of releasing us from our solitude and despair. In bearing witness to suffering with us, Sanbonmatsu helps free us from the emotional paralysis that keeps us isolated from one another and even from ourselves. Despite the deeply painful content of these paintings and sculptures, then, the works offer us a way to reconnect with feelings we may have buried. Sanbonmatsu’s art thus becomes the emotional transport of hope and healing.
"For Sanbonmatsu, the medium is not the message, politics is. Oils, acrylics, and mixed media are flares shot up by the artist not to light up some fictional ideal or conceit of “Beauty,” but rather to illuminate a Boschian landscape of violence, war, injustice, and the assorted hypocrisies of "civilization." As Sanbonmatsu confronts us with painful truths about cruel power, unscrupulous political leaders, and unimaginable human suffering, he asks us to consider our own complicity in oppression--and he challenges us to act.
"We hope that this special show gives you new reason to hope for a better world. Only in confronting the difficult truths of the present and the past might we then lay ethical claim to the future."
Rev. David Carl Olson & John Sanbonmatsu