When I first saw the oil paintings of Paris by the Japanese artist, Takanori Oguiss (1901-1986) I was strangely reminded of the neutron bomb, a weapon notorious for its ability to annihilate humans without damaging buildings.

Like the so-called "clean bomb," his paintings of deserted city scenes seem to have a marked preference for buildings over people. However, Oguiss's work is very much concerned with la vie, the life of Paris -- the earthy and elegant city that became his adopted home and was the inspiration for the great majority of his work. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, an exhibition of 128 of his works is visiting eight venues in Japan over the next year, starting at the Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo.

Originally named Takanori Ogisu, the painter was the son of a rich landowner. Regarding the French capital as the fountainhead of art, he moved to Paris in 1927, after completing his studies, and soon started signing his pictures with a Frenchified version of his family name, "Oguiss." In the same way that America is now attracting the cream of Japan's baseball talent, young Japanese painters of the early 20th century felt challenged to test their skills in the "Major League" of Western art, which, at that time, was undeniably Paris.