The term “Kiinseido” (気韻生動) means that a work of art is full of noble character, elegance, and vivacity. This phrase is said to have been coined by the Meiji-era thinker and art critic Kakuzo Okakura, who sought a state of being for painters. The exhibition will feature works by Hirakushi Denchu, who lived through the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras until the age of 107 and left behind wonderful wood sculptures, as well as contemporary artists Kiichi Sumikawa, Takashi Fukai, Katsura Funakoshi, Kimio Tsuchiya, Tatsuo Miyajima, Atsuhiko Misawa, Koji Tanada, Yoshihiro Suda, Tomotaka Yasui, Kohei Nawa, Yoshimasa Tsuchiya, secca, and paintings by Masato Kobayashi and Ryosuke Hara. Of particular note is the exhibition space, the Homotsuden Treasure Museum Chuso, built in 1921, and the display cases inside it, both of which are designated as National Important Cultural Properties. We hope you will enjoy the graceful works on display.
Yoshimasa Tsuchida "Deer"
A herd of three mystical deer. The soft texture of the skin that seems to shine transparent from within and the crystal eyes, like those of a Buddhist statue, are characteristic of Tsuchiya’s work. The deer is said to be a messenger of the Shinto gods. On the other hand, it is also a vermin that destroys crops. The deer is a symbol that lives freely between dreams and reality, villages and mountains, this world and the next. This beautiful work seems to transport us to another world.
Kimio Tsuchiya "Encapsulation, Seascape/Eboshi, Seascape"
Kimio Tsuchiya has been showing a mythical series of works based on the theme of "place, memory, and time.” The works are made of found driftwood and wood, as well as delicate and bold constructions using the waste timber and ashes of demolished houses. This work was created for this exhibition and is entirely new. The stones wrapped in antique glass placed on the tatami mats look like islands floating in a display case. It is as if they embody the meaning, memory, and time of the Treasure Museum building itself.
Tastuo Miyajima "Pile up Life No.4"
Tatsuo Miyajima is an artist known worldwide for his work with digital counters. Since the 1980s, Miyajima has exhibited his work in more than 250 locations in 30 countries, based on three key concepts: keep changing, connect with everything, continue forever. This work is part of his "Pile Up Life" series, which focuses on ancient monuments found in various regions from East Asia to the Americas, and the concept of eternal life. The work has a natural stone appearance with embedded LEDs, and is a prayer for the damage and lives lost in large-scale natural disasters.
Kohei Nawa "Throne (g/p_pyramid)"
Kohei Nawa is known for his "PixCell" series of works in which large and small beads cover the surfaces of deer, crows, and other animals. This work is a 1/7 scale version of his work "Throne" shown at the Louvre Glass Pyramid in Paris in 2018. The shape is a complex mixture of curves and straight lines, but if you look closely you can see a small throne within it. Nawa collaborated with a traditional woodcarver from Kyoto to create the work, and the whole piece is covered in gold leaf, which is said to have originated in Egypt. The piece resembles a float used Eastern rituals and festivals, making this work a fusion of ancient and modern culture and technology from both the East and the West.
secca is a group of creators based in Kanazawa who create works using a variety of techniques, from traditional crafts to the latest technology. They are always taking on new challenges, such as creating tableware in collaboration with chefs, musical instruments in collaboration with musicians, and artworks in collaboration with lacquer artisans. For their latest work, they have created a pair of komainu (guardian dogs) made up of 30,000 small pieces of wood, which are exhibited in the Treasure Museum’s display cases, themselves designated as important cultural assets. The works questions whether it will be possible to create objects of value in the future digital age. One to watch out for in the future.
Kiichi Sumikawa "Yielding Form"
Kiichi Sumikawa, who cites Denaka Hiragushi as one of his influences, was awarded the Order of Culture last year. He served as president of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, is known for his "Yielding Form" series, and also supervised the design of the Tokyo Sky Tree. Attracted by the structural beauty of the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, which he had known since his childhood, his work explores the tension and beauty created by curves, like those of a Japanese sword. His representative works are shown in this exhibition. We hope you will enjoy their resonance with the Treasure Museum’s display cases, themselves designated as important cultural assets.
Takashi Fukai "Journey to J. Cornell, Flying Horse, Repose CTakashi"
Fukai is an artist who expresses the question of what human existence is in the flow of time from the past to the present and into the future by borrowing forms such as chairs, horses, and wings. Since his second solo exhibition in 1981, he has chosen to exhibit only one work in each exhibition if possible. This box-shaped work was created as an early maquette, and each of the two boxes is filled with the artist's own story. The small horse makes a strong impression as it leaps boldly in the historic display case.
Ryosuke Hara "Shrine Forest"
Shrine ForestRyosuke Hara's paintings have a characteristic translucence, and are created by using only one layer of paint. For Hara, whose hobby is mountain climbing, the appeal of the Meiji Jingu Forest is not only that it was planted by youth groups from all over Japan, but also how it reaffirms the diversity of trees and the beauty of natural renewal. His new work, "Forest of Jingu," depicts the cobalt green forest of Meiji Jingu and the approach to the shrine, shining like a diamond, Emperor Meiji’s favorite gem. As one walks along the approach to the Treasure Museum, one's heart is filled with gratitude for the forest and nature of the shrine.
Masato Kobayashi "KINKA ZAN"
The painter Masato Kobayashi, who has been based in Ghent, Belgium since 1997 and has fascinated curators from all over the world, took on the challenge of creating a new work for this exhibition. Horses have often appeared in his paintings in the past, depicted holding a brush in their mouth as the artist's own alter ego. This time, the artist has depicted a horse belonging to Emperor Meiji, Kinka Zan. The emperor is said to have been very fond of the horse, and so it is fitting that this dignified figure is displayed in the Treasure Museum associated with Emperor Meij, to marks a new chapter in the history of Meiji Jingu Shrine.
Katsura Funakoshi "Winter Book"
Funakoshi Katsura is known for his contemplative and elegant wood sculptures, and he especially likes to work with camphor wood. He says that his encounter with camphor wood, its hardness, feel and texture as he carves it with a chisel, was a gift of fate. His works, with their dignified gaze, seem to reflect the complex inner life of humans. “Winter Book" is one of his more famous early works. The model was a woman he met at another artist's solo exhibition, and it is said that Katsura completed the work without hesitation, in no time at all.
Koji Tanada "winding girl ver.4"
Koji Tanada has worked consistently in wood, carving human figures using the ancient Japanese technique of “ichiboku-zukuri”, or carving figures from a single piece of wood. The idea of walking along a mountain's winding paths to reach the summit coincided with the conflicts he faced in the process of creating his works, and that is when he came up with the "Winding Girl" series. The girl is dressed in a single piece of winding cloth, with only her head from the collarbone upwards exposed, and most of her body invisible beneath the folds of material. The series was born from the intertwining of two beings, a holy being and an immature one yet to become a goddess.
Tomotaka Yasui "untitled (IGH1), untitled (IGH2)"
Yasui mainly creates three-dimensional works using ‘kanshitsu’ dry lacquer. Kanshitsu is the same technique used to make Buddhist statues, such as the Ashura statue in Kofukuji Temple in Nara. A figure made of clay is molded in plaster, which is then coated with a layer of linen and lacquer, allowed to dry, then the process is repeated over and over until the form is complete. The Italian Greyhound, the motif of this work, is a dog that has appeared in sculptures and portraits created by many artists from ancient Egypt to the Renaissance. With its graceful curves, lacquer eyes, and modern-looking dry-lacquer finish, Yasui's work allows us to contemplate the changes to come long into the future.
Yoshihiro Suda "Weed"
Yoshihiro Suda is known for his technique of carving flowers and grasses with such intricate detail that they could be mistaken for the real thing, and then placing them in unexpected places to turn the entire space into an installation work. On discovering Suda's works in the space where they are exhibited, you experience the power of art as your world is transformed. In this exhibition, he focuses on a small plant he found growing at Meiji Shrine. The incredibly delicate wood carvings are filled with the vitality and powerful presence of the tiny plants. His works open up a new field in the world of sculpture.
Atsuhiko Misawa "Insect 2021-01"
Atsuhiko Misawa is known for his "Animals" series of life-sized wood sculptures of animal figures. In this exhibition, he shares a display case with Yoshihiro Suda to show life-sized cicadas. Misawa is careful where his works are displayed, and on a winter day when he visited the Treasure Museum, he said he felt the dignified strength and the warmth of human presence in the building, with its high but not overbearing ceilings. Together, Misawa’s cicadas and Suda's plants elegantly express the repetition of life and death in nature, interacting with the depth of feeling in the Treasure Museum, and the display cases made of the very best wood.