To commemorate the first decade since the opening of the Yamatane Museum of Art in Hiroo, we are pleased to present an exhibition of the work of four painters who exemplify modern nihonga: Yokoyama Taikan, Hishida Shunsō, Kawai Gyokudō, and Kawabata Ryūshi.
Taikan, Shunsō, Gyokudō, and Ryūshi all led in the evolution of nihonga by exploring the possibilities of painting that would be based on tradition but suited the new age in which they lived. They chose, however, different settings in which to be active as artists. Taikan and Shunsō, as members of the Japan Art Institute, experimented with a variety of techniques and styles in creating innovative nihonga. Gyokudō made the kanten, the official exhibitions, his base and developed new terrain in nihonga landscape painting. Ryūshi, however, left the Reestablished Japan Art Institute, founded Seiryūsha, a group he led, and presented large-format, powerful works that had a significant impact on painting circles. Focusing on these four painters and tracing the course of their work, this exhibition reflects on the history of modern nihonga.
An additional focus is the Pine, Bamboo, and Plum (Shōchikubai) exhibitions that Taikan, Gyokudō, and Ryūshi participated in 1955 through 1957, near the end of their careers, at the Kensodō gallery. The Shōchikubai exhibitons were planned at the request of Yamazaki Taneji, our museum’s founder. Taneji cultivated his personal collections with these artists while collecting their work.
This exhibition presents all the works from the Shōchikubai exhibitions in our collection as well many other masterworks by Taikan, Shunsō, Gyokudō, and Ryūshi, all also from our collection. They include Taikan’s Sakuemon’s House, a fusion of nanga and yamato-e, Shunsō’s masterpiece Return from a Fishing Trip, in which he daringly depicting light and air in the mōrōtai (“vague” or “indistinct”) style, Young Ladies Planting Rice, a lively agrarian scene by Gyokudō, and Ryūshi’s Maelstroms at Naruto, a monumental painting he showed at the first exhibition by the Seiryūsha. We hope you will enjoy the rivalry of Taikan, Shunsō, Gyokudō, and Ryūshi, pioneers in modern nihonga and leaders of painting circles in Japan.