Artist Zakrajšek honoured by Japan
Slovenian painter and graphic artist Leon Zakrajšek has been honoured by Japan for his contribution to the promotion of Japanese culture in Slovenia and Croatia. He received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays as Japan celebrated Culture Day at the beginning of the month.
Zakrajšek was also decorated for his contribution to greater understanding between Japan, and Slovenia and Croatia, respectively, the Ljubljana gallery Atelje Galerija said on 17 November.
Having studied in Japan, Zakrajšek has been combining the graphic techniques of the West with the traditional techniques of the East, which he learned during his studies.
Through his art, exhibitions and other activities promoting Japanese art in Slovenia, Croatia and the wider European area, he has been showing his understanding of the Japanese tradition and trying to bring it closer to Europeans, thus making an important contribution to the general understanding of Japanese culture, the gallery said.
The artist once said that he sees himself "as a bridge-builder between different cultures and experiences", and that he sees his path in finding, complementing and combining these different perspectives.
Born in Ljubljana in 1962, Zakrajšek studied at the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts and continued his studies in Spain at the Centro Internacional de Recerca Grafica-Calella.
Later he received a scholarship of the Japanese government at Tama Art University in Tokyo. The experience has left a strong mark on his work, as he received further training in private printmaking studios and with master wood engravers in 1997 and 1998.
Zakrajšek has had some 150 independent exhibitions in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Serbia, China, Croatia, Japan and several other countries, and has taken part in at least 250 group exhibitions around the world.
The Order of the Rising Sun is a Japanese order, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji. The badge, featuring rays of sunlight from the rising sun, is awarded to people who have rendered distinguished service to the Japanese state and culture.