Shohaku Art Museum

Shohaku Art Museum
Nara, Japan

Mission of the Museum
Shohaku Museum is founded in March 1994, helped by donations of artworks from the artists (Uemura Shoen, Uemura Shoko and Uemura Atsushi) and fund from Kintetsu Corporation. The museum collects, conserves and exhibits the work by Shoen, Shoko and Atsushi, aiming to introduce the artworks of Uemura family to visitors. In addition to that, the museum is working on gaining awareness of Japanese-style paintings through special exhibitions and publicly sponsored exhibitions, giving chances to junior artists.

Profiles of Artists Uemura Shoen, 1875 - 1949
Shoen was born as a second daughter of a family running tea leaves business in Shijo-Gokomachi, Kyoto. Her real name is Tsune. Her father passed away early, hence she was brought up by her mother, who supported her to enter Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting in 1887 - while other relatives (especially her uncle) strongly opposed to the decision. There she studied under Suzuki Shonen, a painter of Shijo school. In 1888, she left the school together with Shonen, and continued to be mentored by him in his private academy. When she was 15 years old, her painting Shiki Bijin-zu (The Beauty of Four Seasons) won the 1st prize in 3rd National industrial Exhibition. The painting was purchased by Duke of Connaught, which raised her fame as an artist.In 1893, Shoen became a disciple of Kono Bairei to expand her horizon for 2 years until his death, then studied with Takeuchi Seiho. In 1900, Hana-zakari (In Bloom) won Silver Award in 9th exhibition sponsored by Japan Painting Association and Japan Fine Arts Academy. Since then she has received several awards including those from Japan Painting Association. After Bunten exhibition started in 1907, she focused on government sponsored exhibitions.While she put importance on traditional paintings, she learnt sketching as well following Seiho’s principle to create modern and new Japanese-style paintings. She also practiced Noh chant mentored by Kongo Iwao, and Chinise poems and classics mentored by Nagao Uzan. Through her continuous education, she has established the image of women that is calm and strong at the same time, which is well represented in her art works such as Soshi-arai Komachi and Kinuta, with simple and elegant screen composition which focused on inner soul. After her mother died in 1934, she painted the beauty of women on the street as in Yu-gure (Twilight) and Ban-shu (Late Autumn), with love to her mother who was the best support of Shoen as an artist. She has become member of Imperial Art Academy in 1941, and In 1944, she was assigned as the Artist to the Imperial Household. In 1948 she became the first woman who received the Order of Culture. She died of pulmonary cancer in 1949.Uemura Shoko, 1902 - 2001 Born in Chukyo-ku, Kyoto as first son of Uemura Shoen. His real name is Shintaro.Since his childhood, Shoko loved animals - which later directed him to choose a career as an artist for bird-and-flower painting.In 1915 he joined Kyoto City School of Fine Arts and Crafts, then Kyoto City Academy of Paintings in 1921 where he studied with Nishiyama Suisho, who was a fellow pupil of his mother.In the same year, he has received his first award in 3rd Teiten exhibition with his painting Kantei Geishu (Autumn Comes to the Quiet Garden). Shoko’s talent had been recognized from his youth. In 1928, his painting Hasuike Gunno-zu (Scenery of Mandarin Ducks in Lotus Pond) received highest honor in 9th Teiten Exhibition.In 1933 he had received right to exhibit paintings in Teiten Exhibition without auditing, and in 1943 he joined the panel of judges for 6th New Bunten exhibition. After World War II, as a judge he realized that audition for government sponsored exhibitions are very much controlled by favor, and he decided to create a new art organization. In 1948, together with 13 artists including Okumura Koichi, Sawa Kojin, Yamamoto Kyujin and Fukuda Toyoshiro, who had same concern with him for future of Japanese-style paintings, he left government sponsored exhibitions and established Sozo Bijutsu, new art organization for Japanese-style paintings. Sozo Bijutsu’s motto was to “create brand-new Japanese-style paintings based on its universality destructing any kind of convention”. In 1951, Sozo Bijutsu merged with Shinseisaku Art Society (which was art society for oil paintings, sculptures and architeture), then re-spinned of as Soga-kai Association of Japanese Paintings in 1974 - but throughout the time it had always been the center of Japanese-style paintings.Following the tradition of Kyoto art world, Shoko always expanded new ways of paintings with modern spice, and created his own style characterized by simple figures and clear colors, which intelligently describes space. He had also made challenges such as bird-and-flower painting in the Tropics through his travel to India, south-east Asia and Hawaii, inspired by Ishizaki Koyo who impressed him while he was a student. He also aimed the world of bird-and-flower painting with dignity from the time of Sung and Yuan returning to the tradition, and accomplished his own sonorous world of bird-and-flower painting with clarity.He was chosen as Japan Art Academy member in 1981, received the Order of Culture in 1984. In 2001, Shoko died at the age of 98.

Uemura Atsushi, 1933 - present
Born in Chukyo-ku, Kyoto as first son of Uemura Shoko.He entered Kyoto City University of Fine Arts in 1953. While in school, his paintings, Hakage (Under the Leaves) and Karita (Postharvest Rice Field),were awarded in Spring Exhibition of Shinseisaku Art Society Japanese-style paintings division in 1956. In the same year, he has won a prize in 20th Shinseisaku Art Society Exhibition with Mizu (Water) and has made a debut to Japanese art world.His graduation works, Kamo A (Duck A) and Kamo B (Duck B) were awarded the first prize in the exhibition of the university, and were bought by the university. After graduation, he has actively participated in exhibitions such as Shinseisaku Art Society Exhibition and Soga-ten exhibition. In 1968, his work Kakei (Eared Pheasants) has received New Artist Award in 32th Shinseisaku Art Society Exhibition.He has received two Soga-kai Award, one with Shin I・II (Dawn I・II) in Soga-ten exhibition in 1978 (which was bought by Agency for Cultural Affairs), the other with Geese (Moonlight) and Geese (In the Snow), in 7th Soga-ten exhibition in 1980. Between these years, he has also awarded five times in Shinseisaku Spring Exhibition. In addition to that, he was also chosen for Exhibition of Great Artworks of Japan in 1979 - 1984 and 1996 - 1998. In 1981 he had become a member of Soga-kai Association of Japanese Paintings. In 1985 he participated Exhibition of Great Japanese-style Paintings of Kyoto Art World - since then he participated the exhibition 9 times in total. In 1992, he received Kyoto City Cultural Contributor Award. In 1994 he had become director of Shohaku Museum, and in the following year he received the Japan Art Academy Award with Karigane (Lesser White-fronted Goose). In 2002 he was assigned as member of the Japan Art Academy.He had always been passionate of education of younger artists. He had been an associate professor in Kyoto City University of Arts since 1972, in 1984 he had become full professor, then from 1999 he had been vice-president of the university for 5 years. On his artworks in early his career, it is seen that he tries based on his understanding to have a formative possibility which can often can be seen in Japanese paintings after the World War II. After he realised the difference between the western sense and the eastern scene, he gradually puts his mentality into undrawn space. As the results of his challenge, he began to form his own drawing style which can be expressed wild birds living against harsh nature symbolically in his pure drawing construction. Atsushi currently lives with 1500 birds with 280 species, claiming the importance of coexisting with nature. He is still in odyssey of developing bird-and-flower painting with oriental spiritualness, aiming to recover oriental aesthetic to modern Japanese society.

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Shohaku Art Museum2-chōme-1-4 Tomigaoka
Nara, 631-0004
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Opening hours
Tuesday10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Wednesday10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Thursday10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Friday10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
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