An oil painting created by Poirot. (Cui Xiao/For China Daily)
French painter works on comfort women series
French oil painter Christian Poirot is visiting Nanjing, Jiangsu province, the city whose tragic wartime history inspired him to create a new series of works.
"Honestly, in the past, I knew nothing about the Nanjing Massacre or the history of forced comfort women during the Japanese invasion of China in World War II," the 56-year-old artist said. So-called comfort women were sex slaves for the Japanese military.
As he traveled through Nanjing several years ago, a friend told him that 300,000 Chinese people had been murdered after the city fell into Japanese hands. He was shocked, and decided to express his feelings in a painting.
In December 2015, he donated a painting measuring 7.5 meters wide by 2.4 meters tall to the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders.
The painting depicts scenes of violence that occurred during the 1937-38 massacre, confronting viewers with the bloody ordeal suffered by the victims.
Poirot visited Nanjing again in September and worked out of a museum built on the former site of a "comfort women" station at Liji Lane in Nanjing to create a series of works based on those events. He made three paintings there.
In one painting, miserable-looking women wait for examination while the corpses of others are piled on the ground.
"My heart was deeply touched when I looked at historical photos of comfort women at the museum. Depicting the bitterness of their tortured lives is my tribute to those women who still live with painful memories. I hope the work will be a call for peace for humankind," Poirot said.
He said he would continue the comfort women series after he returns to France.
Poirot plans to donate the paintings to the memorial hall before Dec 13 to coincide with the commemoration of China's national memorial day for victims in the massacre.
Poirot, who is well-known around the world for his oil paintings, was granted honorary citizenship of the city of Nanjing in 2015.