Kuroda Seiki and Fujishima Takeji were both born in Kagoshima at a time when the Meiji era was about to begin, Fujishima one year after Kuroda. It would be no exaggeration to say that they are the two great masters of modern Japanese Western-style painting. Whereas Kuroda studied Western-style painting in France, Fujishima began by studying Japanese-style painting in Japan and later switched to Western-style painting. The two men met when Kuroda returned from studying abroad and were to promote modern Japanese Western-style painting together. Through the works on display, we shall examine the relationship between Kuroda and Fujishima. We shall also introduce how the works by Fujishima Takeji form the core, together with works by Aoki Shigeru, of Ishibashi Shojiro’s collection
Matsuda Teisho and Koga Harue were both born in Kurume. Seven years older than Koga, Matsuda was Koga’s art teacher. Koga won the Nika Prize at the ninth Nika Exhibition in 1922 and proceeded as an avant-garde artist. Meanwhile, Matsuda remained in Kurume and chose to pursue a career in bringing up the next generation. Koga looked up to Matsuda as if he were an elder brother and looked forward to going on sketching excursions with him. The works on display focus on the relationship between these two painters. There is also mention of associating with Ishibashi Shojiro in Matsuda’s diary. Most of Koga’s works were purchased by Shojiro on the occasion of the opening of the Ishibashi Museum of Art in 1956.
Aoki Shigeru (1882–1911) and Sakamoto Hanjiro (1882–1969) were both born in Kurume and both pursued a career as an artist. Even after Aoki’s death, Sakamoto remained conscious of Aoki’s existence. In stark contrast to Aoki, who swept through his twenty-eight-year-long life, Sakamoto sedately devoted his eight-seven-year-long life entirely to painting. While these two artists’ course of action, character, and length of life differed, in this exhibition, their careers and lives are introduced with occasional entwinement. This is the first time we are holding an exhibition with focus on Aoki and Sakamoto as a twosome, and it should prove an opportunity to reconsider the history of Western-style painting in Japan from the Meiji era to the Showa era.Aoki Shigeru《Self-Portrait》1903, Artizon Museum, Ishibashi Foundation, Tokyo (formerly Bridgestone Museum of Art)
Before Western realism was introduced into Japan, there was a realism native to Japan identifiable in Buddhist sculptures of the Kamakura period and jizai okimono (articulated iron figures of animals) of the Edo period. Through the ages, the methods of expression and sensibilities have been commingled with Western realistic expressions and are inherited by contemporary artists, too. In this exhibition, with oil paintings by Takahashi Yuichi and iki-ningyo (lifelike dolls) by Matsumoto Kisaburo and others as an introduction, works by currently active artists are introduced. We hope to explore what Japanese “realism” inexplicable within the Western context was and how it came into being.Fukahori Riusuke《Sakura masu name: Usubeni》2017, Hiratsuka museum of art