See works of the exhibition "SHIKANSUIYO – THE HUNDRED YEAR FOREST AND ART” at the Meiji Jingu Museum. The artists have prepared their works with particular thought for the shrine and its sacred forests. Here introduce of the works the traditional Japanese forms of folding screens, hanging scrolls, partition screens (paintings).［Exhibition Information］Date: July 10 (Fri) – September 27 (Sun), 2020. Venue: Meiji Jingu Museum
About “Shikansuiyo - Art and the Hundred Year Forest”
The literal meaning of the expression “shikansuiyo” (紫幹翠葉) is “purple trunk, green leaves”, but it is used to refer to a beautiful scene from nature. Since prehistoric times, the Japanese people have prayed in thanks to the spirits of the mountains and forests, and that attitude forms the basis of the traditional Japanese relationship with nature. And it is not only in the symbolic Mt. Fuji or cherry blossom that beauty is to be found, but in the humble everyday nature of rice fields, wild flowers and birds, as well.For this exhibition, the forty participating artists have prepared their works with particular thought for the shrine and its sacred forests, and with a passion, awe and respect for nature and our daily lives. The media chosen for their works are the traditional Japanese forms of folding screens, hanging scrolls, partition screens (paintings) and folding fans. A centerpiece of the show is the fan-shaped paintings exhibited together along one wall, which were commissioned from thirty contemporary artists, renowned for both their skill and talent.
Kota Hirakawa "Tea Ceremony in Forest - Kiyomasa Well and Iris in Meiji Jingu"
Normally, predator and prey animals don’t drink water together at the same place. But in this work, all kinds of animals are shown drinking water together at Kiyomasa’s Well in Meiji Jingu. It is as if there were enemy samurai who leave their swords outside and enter the tearoom unarmed to share tea. The animals share water peacefully, with the same peaceful aesthetic as a the tea ceremony.
Takeshi Honda"Walking in the Mountains-April (Moonlight Night)"
Since the 1990s, Takeshi Honda has produced works in a “mountain walking” series. Living in the Tono region of Iwate prefecture, he sometimes walks for more than ten hours in the mountains. He photographs the mountain scenery and draws it with charcoal pencil. For Honda it is a process of recording memory, and an affirmation of his own existence.
Aki Fueda"Japanese Raccoon Dog in Meiji Jingu"
Aki Fueda has a deep love for animals and insects, both the frail and the robust, and points them with an extremely sensitive brush. Born in Tokyo, she says she has always felt an affection for Meiji Shrine. This painting depicts a lively tanuki (racoon dog) she came across in the imperial gardens. The artists view presents us with an image of the animism in the forest, where all of creation seems to reside.
Kengo Nakamura"Japanese Frogs"
This work of cute frogs that were found printed on a toy box, arranged around a space in the middle of the image, is painted with mineral pigments in the traditional Nihonga technique. Just as the sacred forest has been nurtured over one hundred years, so the Japanese have loved small animals and plants since ancient times. The term “Nihonga” was coined in the Meiji era, and Nakamura’s work investigates how that technique can be applied to contemporary times.
Masayoshi Nojo "Mirage#50"
The trees of the Meiji Jingu Forest are recreated in metal foil on a traditional screen. The work can be viewed from both sides, and shines like stained glass, reflecting dappled light into the space like trees in sunlight. The work captures the artist’s wish that the dense forest which has stood for a hundred years may remain a place people gather for one hundred more.
Ryo Shinagawa "The Iris Garden"
Just as in Emperor Meiji’s poem “utsusemi no yoyogi no sato shizukanite to no hoka no kokochi kososure” (“The quiet of Yoyogi makes it feel far away from the city”), even today the imperial gardens are so quiet it is easy to forget you are in the center of Tokyo. Artist Ryo Shinagawa found that quiet in the irises, and they gave birth to this work. By using a gold-leaf screen which draws you into its world, the work lures you into a meditative state “far away from the city”.
Taro Yamamoto"Hagoromo Balloons"
The motif of this work is the Noh play “Hagoromo”. In the play, the heavenly maidens dance for the happiness and prosperity of the land before returning to the heavenly palace. The balloons express the floating world, and are painted in the colors of the protagonist’s curtain in Noh theatre. The screen painting depicts a scene from Hagoromo condensed into one image.
This work uses as its motif the Yatagarasu three-legged crow that appears in Japanese mythology and is connected to the emperor. This could be said to be Tenmyouya’s first ever abstract work. With references to western artists Mark Rothco and Yves Klein, he has created a powerful screen reminding one of the unseeable nature of Japan’s gods.
Yasumasa Moriumura"Flying in the Wilderness - Appearance"
Yasumasa Morimura’s work imitates Gohotoji (Dharmapala) in the Shigisan-engi painted scroll from the end of the Heian era. Gohotoji is seen dressed in a cloak of swords, rolling a metal chakravartin wheel, in order to cure Emperor Daigo of his disease. Perhaps Gohotoji has come to help rid us of COVID-19.
Yoi kawakubo"Medium #14"
Yoi Kawakubo is a photographer living in London. This work is a photograph of Mt. Fuji seen from west Izu Peninsular, mounted on a hanging scroll. In the foreground the island seem to be a married couple rock. The work not only shows a deep affection for nature, but reminds us of the problems of the environment, too, triggering thoughts on how we might rethink our daily lives.
Mai Miyake"The Salt of Earth"
Mai Miyake works with a sensitive Japanese aesthetic as her base, using traditional craft and cutting-edge technology equally to pursue the true essence of things. This work uses Chinese paper and her own handwriting on a hanging scroll. The wood print looks like rain, waves and water depicting purification. The single character is “orchid”, from the Shikunshi, and in the water pot with a dragon seal denoting water, the flower symbolizes summer. A run-away cat comes back, with a frog riding on it symbolizing magic - the work is filled with hidden symbolism around the sacred forest and nature, animals and the gods.
Hiroshi Sugito "The Sweep"
At Meiji Jingu there are people who quietly sweep the approaches, knows as The Sweepers (Hakiyasan). Artist Hiroshi Sugito was struck by their steady work, never disturbing the pilgrims coming and going. Their movements, and the unique shape of their hand-made brooms became the motif for this work.
Taro Shinoda "Rock Garden"
Having studied landscape gardening in the past, Taro Shinoda’s work is of the rock garden drawn in pencil on tracing paper. The composition is extremely minimal, and the plain wood gives a Shinto feel. The rock garden is made of fifteen rocks in five groups, and is known to contain western techniques of the golden ratio and perspective. Underlying notions of beauty both old and new, eastern and western are contained within the rocks.
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