Today, I would like to introduce my most favorite Japanese painter, KAII HIGASHIYAMA (東山魁夷)
He is one of the representative Japanese modern landscape painters.
The sceneries that he paints are not something like trackless wildness, but it is always a place where the sign of human life still remains, which is somehow to reflect the state of one’s mind.
After graduating from an art University in Japan at the age of 20, he studied in Germany to understand how western painters are seeing the objects of paintings when painting natural sceneries, thinking it would be useful for him in future.
He also studies European picture books to introduce it to children back home.
Around the time he returned Japan, there was a strong possibility of war came out here and there.
Naturally, he was also enrolled into military service and dispatched to KUMAMOTO prefecture where he witnessed a scenery which was to establish his life after that.
One day, when he climbed the KUMAMOTO castle, he was shocked by the landscape therefrom.
A stretch of deep green plain and mountains from where he found the real beauty of nature and the sparkle of life…
This was the origin of KAII HIGASHIYAMA as a landscape painter.
He decided himself, if he could survive from this war, he will take a paintbrush again and face the life.
It was 11 years ago when I saw the work of KAII for the first time.
I turned on the TV and saw his soul-purifying work by chance in the program which was introducing an art exhibition of HIGASHIYAMA held in YOKOHAMA Museum.
By a curious coincidence, it was the last day of the exhibition. Since I was located in YOKOHAMA at that time, and it is just 30 minutes by car to go to the museum.
I prepared right away and went there with my husband.
The landscape paintings were so attracting with full of gentle color. Every work had healing power while I felt strong passion deep in my mind.
Since it was the last day, the room was very crowded.
People devoured each work with so great zeal that the line wouldn’t go on.
In addition, the line was even double and triple, so I could barely saw the work between the heads of people as I am not tall enough.
Under such condition, I finally arrived in front of this exhibition’s most featured work called “TŌSEI (濤声)”, English title is “The Sound of Waves”.
At that moment, I felt like I was alone in the area deeply moved with tears running through my cheeks naturally.
This work consists of pictures of the sea painted on 16 pieces of room partitions of “MIEI-DŌ hall (御影堂) of “TŌSHŌDAIJI Temple (唐招提寺)”.
Looking at so large-scales art work established in a semicircular form, I actually “heard” the fizzling sound, a sound that the small bubbles of waves burst after beating the rocks. Goose pimples came out on my arms and I was glued to the pictures. I felt as if I was in front of the sea in reality.
Even now, I can easily recall that excitement that I had in front of the work whenever remembering the moment.
There was another work in the exhibition with which I experienced the similar emotion.
It was a picture of morning mountain called “SAN-UN (山雲)”, English title is “Mountain clouds”.
Here, I felt white morning mist coming down from the mountain, which lightly stroked my face and I actually “felt” the chill.
They are all 2 dimensional art work, however I experienced that they were solemnly appealing to me 3 dimensionally. I have never felt so moved just by watching paintings before or since.
Due to so huge excitement and emotion, I felt wandering aimlessly for a while.
KAII is saying later “I was enlightened by a landscape during war. Only under the circumstances where I was forced to see my flame of life be extinguished surely and shortly, the natural landscape looked lively.”
From his work, I can see his humble attitude seriously facing to the dignity of pure nature. That’s why people who see his work have unspeakable emotions by the mysterious power that his paintings have.
Now, what kind of meaning did these works for TŌSHŌDAIJI Temple gave to the life of KAII HIGASHIYAMA?
To understand this point, I will like to go deeper by explaining about “GANJIN WAJŌ”, the founder of this temple next time.