Kansuke FUJII

New Vistas in Nihonga

June 12, 2008 - July 03, 2008
reception: June 12, 6-8pm

The Ippodo Gallery will present New Vistas in Nihonga Painting, an exhibition of works by Kansuke Fujii, from Thursday, June 12th, to Thursday, July 3rd. Fujii derives exciting new possibilities from the traditional, ground-stone pigments of nihonga painting. Unifying his diverse artwork is his consistently tasteful, always imaginative, and unfailingly stimulating aesthetic. Here is a rare artist, who is unaffiliated with any formal group and unreceptive to any official recognition. Fujii has established a truly unique identity in contemporary art.

Born in 1947 to a family of modest means in Hyogo Prefecture, Fujii aspired early to a career in art. Rather than finishing high school, he apprenticed at a Kyoto studio that produced patterns for imprinting on kimonos.

Fujii's pattern designs gradually gained acclaim and he set out on his own after 11 years at the Kyoto studio. He taught himself to work in the Otsu-e genre because he loved the tradition of Otsu-e painting, which consists of often, humorous renderings of religious figures, devils, or animals accompanied by gently moralistic verses. In 1980, Fujii began studying under the nihonga painter Hitoshi Komatsu (1902-1989). He had long idolized Komatsu, and the influence of the older painter was to transform his life and his career. "I still devote myself in every painting," Fujii confides, " create something I would be proud for Komatsu to see."

A continuing subject for Fujii in his painting and drawing are the macaques at Kyoto's Iwatayama Monkey Park. His detailed botanical paintings, embellished with gold and silver leaf, have elicited comparisons with the flamboyantly decorative Rimpa School of the 17th and 18th centuries. The multifaceted Fujii paints fantastic human figures in a style suggestive of Joseon Dynasty Korean art. Fujii also continues to create his beloved Otsu-e paintings.

1947 Born in Hyogo Prefecture

1963 Begins study under Yataro Masunaga in Kyoto.

1980 Begins study of monochrome painting under Hitoshi Komatsu

1988 Holds first exhibition, in Tokyo

Lives and works in Kyoto