In 1941, students of the art club of Asahikawa Teachers' School were arrested by the Special Higher Police in the "Life Drawing Case". The series looks at the incident that occurred 80 years ago through the lives of two people living in the present. Kentaro Takahashi’s photobook “A Red Hat” follows the current lives of Ryoichi Hishiya and Goro Matsumoto. 98 and 99 years old respectively, we are allowed intimate glimpses into their habits, interests, ailments, the paintings they draw, books they read, and the past that unites them. On September 20, 1941, Hishiya, Matsumoto and other students of the Asahikawa Teachers’ School were arrested by the Special Higher Police. Under the guidance of Masago Kumada, the art students learned not to draw pictures following textbook orders but to observe reality and society and draw based on their own conclusions and observations. They were arrested on suspicion of violating the Peace Preservation Law, accused of criticizing the state and spreading anti-Japanese ideology, and held in prison for years. None of the paintings they created were seen again; all that remained were black-and- white photographs of the works. Takahashi’s quiet, questioning photographic series is supplemented in the book by other materials from the "past" that they kept in their archives, and long, detailed historical essays, into the case and its background and others (all texts included in Japanese and English translation). Now that the "anti-terror conspiracy law" has been enacted in japan 2017, the photographs of the two men, who were arrested for violating the "Peace Preservation Law" just for drawing daily life scenes, may provide us with something to think about today's situation and life. It is a book of photographs with many questions in the quiet pages.
A RED HAT / Kentaro Takahashi