This is a study of Hanada Kiyoteru, a communist literary and art critic whose position in the world of postwar art criticism has gone relatively unexamined in Japanese studies and art history in English. One of the more aggressive critical figures during the immediate postwar era, he helped to foster a community of art critics and artists who carried into practice aspects of his dialectical and surrealist-inflected method of reading. He was in many ways responsible for signifying how postwar avant-garde art should be read, as well as how the prewar efforts could be revived to continue the leftist struggle. This article is primarily concerned with his earlier work, starting from his first collection of essays, Spirit of Renaissance (1946), to his well-known Avant-Garde Art (1954), touching upon some of his major motifs found in these texts. Beginning with Hanada's concern for the “transformative age” referred to as tenkeiki, the article examines his dynamic thinking process, which mirrored the very performative maneuvers he saw in the figures who occupied a transitional period. His investment in the historical interstice was a way to escape essentialism, humanism, and ultimately, Japan. He did so in order to conceive of plurality, nonhuman agency, and becoming. This article, rather than to place Hanada in the historical context in which he wrote, treats his work aesthetically, paying particular attention to the rhythmic and agile movement of his writing and thought.

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