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Past Special Exhibition 2001

Suzuki Osamu / Uemura Shoko Commemorative Exhibition

3 October (Wed) to 25 December (Tue), 2001

Suzuki Osamu (1926–2001) was born in Gojozaka, Kyōto. He attended Kyōto Second Industrial Arts School and graduated from the ceramics department. In 1948 he joined Yagi Kazuo and others in forming the avant-garde pottery group “Sodeisha.”
He was an active participant in movements to revolutionize Japanese pottery, contributing essays on the subject and backing up his theories with actual works of his own, eventually to be recognized as an important leader in the world of Japanese abstract ceramics.
Suzuki's works were inspired by natural shapes like animals and mountains, and by natural phenomena like wind and snow, all of which he subjected to geometric analysis to build intelligent, concise forms in fired clay. These works, including distinctly modern pieces in blue-white porcelain to reddish-brown ones colored with intelligence and humor, transcended the boundaries of pottery to earn wide positive recognition.
In 1999, Suzuki's pottery was presented in large solo exhibitions at five venues around Japan, including the ceramics wing of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and that same year he became the first potter to win the Asahi Prize. While it was hoped that that he would continue to remain active, regrettably he passed away a short time later.
This exhibition included works representative of Suzuki Osamu's contributions to the Shiseido-sponsored Exhibition of Modern Industrial Arts series (1975–1995), presented along with pieces from a 1999 interview titled “The Artist Speaks” (“Sakusha no Kotoba”) and other records to recall his achievements.

Uemura Shoko (1902–2001), known for his elegant pictures in the flower-and-bird genre, was born in Kyoto, the eldest son of renowned “beauty picture” (bijinga) painter Uemura Shoen. In 1921 he enrolled at the Kyoto Municipal School of Fine Arts and Crafts, and while there also entered the Shoko-sha private painting school as a pupil of Japanese painting authority Nishiyama Suisho. At the young age of just nineteen, Uemura took his first steps onto the stage of painting when his work “Heitei-geishu" (Autumn in the quiet garden) was selected at the Teiten Exhibition (Japan Imperial Exhibition). Later, he continued with Shoko-sha, working diligently to present work after work to both the Teiten and Bunten exhibitions, never allowing the occlusive nature of the old-guard painting world to stall his efforts. In 1948, Uemura joined with fellow artists Yamamoto Kyujin, Akino Fuku and others to establish "Sozo Bijutsu,” a circle of painters endeavoring to “create Japanese-style paintings grounded on a sense of broader worldliness,” which would become the “Sogakai" (Creative Painting Association). Thereafter he remained out of the limelight through most of his life, continuing to pursue in his work a classical tone while at the same time continuing unrivaled efforts in the study and development of the flower-and-bird painting genre. In 1984 these efforts won him an Order of Culture and other nominations, and he continued to be a prominent figure on the stage of Japanese painting.
This exhibition focused on works Uemura Shoko presented as part of his participation in the Shiseido-sponsored Third Tsubakikai (1974–1990) exhibitions, presented along with pieces from a 1998 interview titled “The Artist Speaks” (“Sakusha no Kotoba”) and other records to recall his achievements.

Yamana Ayao Exhibition

3 July (Tue) to 30 September (Sun), 2001

This exhibition featured the work of Yamana Ayao (1897–1980), a pioneer in modern advertising design in Japan and a creator known for his beautiful illustrations.
Hiroshima-born Yamana was exposed early on to the talents of artists like Takehisa Yumeji and Aubrey Beardsley. He attended the prefectural Wakayama Middle School (now Toin High School), and later went to Umeda, Osaka to study oil painting at the Western painting studio of Akamatsu Rinsaku. In the late 1910s he was involved in magazine editing and writing, then later joined the publishing house Platon (founded in 1922) where he began his career as an illustrator.
In 1929 Yamana joined Shiseido's design department. He would leave the company and return to it twice during his career, but over the years his design, illustration and art direction activities would be key in establishing a distinct advertisement design style for Shiseido. Until the 1960s, when the mainstream of advertising switched to photography, it was Yamana and his hand-painted images of women that gave form to the Shiseido image as known through its advertisements.
This exhibition displayed a variety of works from Yamana's years with Shiseido, including illustration originals and some of the advertisements and cosmetics packages he designed, introducing the appeal of his work from multiple angles.

Wakita Kazu Exhibition

11 April (Wed) to 1 July (Sun), 2001

This exhibition featured the work of Wakita Kazu, a Western-style painter well known for his depictions of subjects like birds and children using warmly elegant colors and forms. Wakita was born in1908 to a prosperous industrialist family, and with the blessing of his father (a man himself well-versed in the arts) in 1923 left the prestigious Aoyama Gakuin Junior High School and traveled to Germany to receive a strict education under the auspices of the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), a prominent European art education institution. He excelled in his studies and returned to Japan in 1930, continuing to apply himself to his art and participating in prestigious exhibitions like the Fukokai and Teiten. In 1936, he joined with fellow artists Koiso Ryohei, Inokuma Genichiro, and others to form “Shinseisaku Kyokai,” a new art society devoted to modernism. Using this as his primary presentation venue, he continued exhibiting work internationally, participating in events like the Venice Biennale and Pittsburgh International Art Show. In 1998 Wakita received the Japanese Order of Culture award, and continues today as a leader in the world of contemporary Western painting.
This exhibition highlighted twenty-nine oil paintings Wakita produced between 1942 and 1999, many submitted to Shiseido-sponsored exhibitions like the Third Tsubakikai Exhibition and Mayumikai, including some from the collection of the Wakita Museum (in Karuizawa, Nagano).

Some Contemporary Sculptures

5 January (Fri) to 8 April (Sun), 2001

This exhibition featured works by three leading Japanese contemporary sculptors.
In the context of changing art and aesthetic consciousness, and the diversification of pictorial expression, the world of sculpture, too, has developed in a variety of directions. While traditionally sculpture had been the art of recreating images of people, animals, and so on in three dimensions, modern sculpture has broken these constraints to become its own artistic field embracing a much freer three-dimensional expression, including more wide-ranging subject matter and a greater diversity of materials. The artists in this exhibition, too, have created their works from diverse materials, from metals like copper, stainless steel and aluminum to pristine woods to colored hemp ropes. Even when using similar materials, these sculptors have used them in different ways, for example taking the same metal and polishing it to a beautiful mirror-like finish on one hand, or melting it into indeterminate shapes on the other. Their use of lines and planes as elements of composition, too, has produced completely different expressive effects depending on the artistic intention.
The artists represented in this exhibition included Iida Yoshikuni, Horiuchi Masakazu and Mukai Ryokichi, all members of the Shiseido-sponsored Fourth Tsubakikai, which exhibited contemporary works from 1993 to 1997. Visitors to this show had a chance to taste a little of the diversity of contemporary sculpture.