Eyes & Curiosity—Flowers in the Field: Focus on Kimura Ryōko’s Nihonga Paintings of Beautiful Men (Bidan-ga)

Eyes & Curiosity—Flowers in the Field (16 March – 21 April 2019), a group exhibition by four Japanese artists opened on 16 March, 2019 at Mizuma Gallery in Singapore. The exhibition, according to the gallery’s press release, embodies new interpretations of traditional techniques and explores the relevance of old ideals in today’s society. Working in different mediums, the artists— Kato Ai, Kimura Ryōko, Kobayashi Satoshi and Mizuno Rina present works that are a treat to the eyes.

From decorative natural landscapes, intricate relief paintings of nature, nihonga (Japanese-style) paintings of men to bubblegum-pop style depictions of women, the show updates contemporary themes and reflects how the artists navigate the legacy of tradition and of visual tropes.

Here, I will focus on a discussion of Kimura Ryōko’s selected works for the exhibition—Paradise of Dragon Palace, Fugen Bodhisattva, Monju Bodhisattva and Jizo Bodhisattva.

The Sea of the Enchanted Palace—Paradise of Dragon Palace, 2016. Japanese pigments and gold leaf on paper mounted on a four-panel folding screen, 176 x 340cm. Image courtesy of Kimura Ryōko.

The centerpiece of Kimura’s exhibited works in Eyes & Curiosity is a large, four-paneled folding screen painting on the subject of Ryūgu (Ryūgu-jō) or Dragon Palace. In Chinese and Japanese folklore, sea gods were said to reside in these undersea palaces. Reference to Ryūgu is found in the popular legend of Urashima Tarō, who rescued a turtle and was rewarded by time spent at the Dragon Palace with Princess Otohime. In Kimura’s Ryūgu, mermen and other half-man-half-sea creatures frolic around in the underwater world. The painting is almost like an encyclopedic record of sea creatures and plants, showcasing species such as a stingray, squid and shark, amongst other detailed and decorative depictions of various corals.

Using Japanese pigments from Nihonga and gold leaf, the painting is a magnificent display of both technique and subject matter. Nihonga, or Japanese-style painting was a term coined in the modern history of Japanese art during the Meiji era. When Western (primarily oil painting) influences in art were rapidly gaining popularity, Japanese art was bifurcated into this dichotomy of Japanese-Western painting due to the circumstances of the time. The pigments used in nihonga are usually derived from natural minerals and through a process of grinding down to specific particle sizes, they are then mixed with a binder (nikawa or glue made from animal skin) and applied in layers. Unlike oil painting where mistakes or changes in the application of paint can be corrected, nihonga pigments are harder to manipulate through all stages from the preparation of the pigments to mixing and application on the painted surface. Considering that nihonga specialty courses in colleges and universities spend at least a year in foundation, learning how to handle and treat pigments, Kimura’s self-study and grasp of nihonga is impressive. In an interview with the artist in Musashi Bi Tsūshin (a monthly publication from Musashino Art University), she shared that she had learnt the techniques from nihonga friends to painting manuals and correspondence courses.

The stylistic treatment of Ryūgu—from the application of a gold leaf background, the rich palette of colours, the detailed depiction of underwater plants down to the gold clouds which part to reveal and contain individual settings within, reference the Kanō school style of painting. Kanō artists were active in the Muromachi period to the early Meiji era with some even serving as official painters for the shogunate. They followed a Chinese-style lineage of painting, adapting Chinese ink painting with the Yamato-e style.

Kimura’s careful study of past painterly traditions is successfully captured in Paradise of Dragon Palace which at a casual glance, seems to resemble a traditional Kanō-style painting. Upon closer observation, the painting reveals itself to be a rakuen or paradise where every unclothed male-fish subject is perfect. Their lean, naked torsos are sculptured, their chiseled good looks modeled after a selection of differently styled characters found in shōjō magazines, manga, anime and pop idol groups.

While Kimura admits to model them after certain bidanshi (beautiful men) found in pop culture, she did not intend to have them resemble actual idols. This deliberation allows each viewer to impose his or her own individual fantasy onto these subjects. Whether it was a high school classmate or an older rockstar idol, it was possible to find your fantasy amongst the paradise to one’s liking. The absence of women in this landscape aids in a powerful invitation to insert yourself into this imagination.

Jizo Bodhisattva, 2017. Japanese Pigments and Gold Leaf on Silk. Image courtesy of Kimura Ryōko.

The same attraction is felt towards the Boddhisattvas found in the three paintings of Fugen, Monju and Jizo. In Buddhism, Boddhisattvas are persons who consciously delay their own nirvana to help others attain enlightenment. Jizo, is arguably one of the most commonly seen statue of Boddhisattvas in Japan, recognised by the red knitted bibs and caps that usually drape them. As the guardian deity of children, parents pray to Jizo for protection from illness or for the unborn and departed. Although the genre of Buddhist paintings (Butsu-ga) has a long history, the subjects are rarely depicted in the manner that Kimura does.

They are given a contemporary update, and in doing so, question conventions of portrayal and stereotypes associated with monks. A few months ago in Japan, social media erupted with footage of monks dressed in robes doing activities like skipping, skating and juggling. These “I can do this in monk’s robes” videos were an outpouring of support in response to a monk who was fined for driving dressed in his religious attire. The traffic police ascertained that religious robes were hazardous to everyday activity.

Kimura spoke about these new series of Buddhist paintings, relating a personal event at a temple ceremony years ago where the presiding monk was not only soothing in his performance of religious rites but also with his good looks. Almost a decade later, Kimura has finally had the chance to draw from memory, her lasting impression of this encounter.

Fugen Bodhisattva, 2017. Japanese Pigments and Gold Leaf on Silk. Image courtesy of Kimura Ryōko.


Monju Bodhisattva, 2017. Japanese Pigments and Gold Leaf on Silk. Image courtesy of Kimura Ryōko.

Bodhisattvas Fugen and Monju, often depicted in a triad with Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha) are represented here with beautiful faces and in masculine poses, showing off their ripped bodies. The dynamism and energy seen in Monju Bodhisattva, striding a lion, and the deliberate pose of Fugen sitting with his leg apart, excites and impresses. In a separate exhibition of these paintings in Kyoto last year, Kimura titled her show 「多情仏心」or Tajō Busshin which translates to “fickle but kind-hearted”​. If monks in their religious garb could be allowed to partake in everyday activities such as in those videos mentioned-above, could they then not also exhibit human traits of being fickle, emotional or even amorous? Can they also exceed the norm, and be portrayed as impossibly beautiful, sexy demi-gods? By continuing with her theme of eros in the portrayal of men, Kimura moves her investigation into a new arena, exploring these questions in the pin-ups of religious personalities.

About the Artist, Kimura Ryōko  木村了子

Kimura Ryōko (b. 1971, Kyoto, Japan) is an artist who works and lives in Tokyo. She paints with a wide-ranging knowledge and interest in Japan’s pictorial heritage, including Chinese-style landscapes, Zen Buddhist ink portraiture, and Ukiyo-e paintings and woodblock prints. At the same time, Kimura’s works are unmistakably contemporary due to her chosen subject matter, namely beautiful males, especially the movie idol and pop singer types commonly reproduced in Japanese teen girl magazines. Kimura graduated with a Master’s Degree in Mural Painting at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Japan. Her most recent exhibitions include Tenderheartedness at Kyoto-ba, Kyoto, Japan (2018); IkemenMärchen at Artcomplex Center of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan (2017); Beaute Animale de L’Homme at Galerie Vanessa Rau, Paris, France (2015); her works are in the public collection of Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas, United States, and Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, United States.



Mizuma Gallery (Singapore)

Sueo Mizuma established Mizuma Art Gallery in Tokyo in 1994. Since its opening in Gillman Barracks, Singapore in 2012, the gallery aims for the promotion of East Asian artists in the region as well as the introduction of Southeast Asian artists to the international art scene. Mizuma Gallery Singapore is located at 22 Lock Road #01-34 Gillman Barracks Singapore 108939.

https://www.mizuma.sg/ and http://mizuma-art.co.jp/en/

Reproductions of images have been granted by the artist.

To download a PDF copy of this essay, please click >> Eyes & Curiosity—Flowers in the Field- Focus on Kimura Ryoko’s

Kochi Kenten , nihonga department

Kochi-Kenten is the annual art exhibition of Kochi Prefecture. This year’s event (the 72nd Exhibition) features a variety of artistic disciplines in 8 sections: Nihonga, Western-Style Painting, Calligraphy, Photography, Crafts, Graphic Design, Sculpture, and Contemporary Art (Sentan art). Any adult residing in  Kochi prefecture can present his or her work to be selected for the exhibition. There is two exhibition sites: Kochi Prefecture Museum of Art and  Kochi Cultural Centre.


The Nihonga section is exhibited in the Kochi Prefecture Museum of Art. When a person wins the first prize three times, he/her becomes Mukansa (a person who becomes exempted from future examinations required to display art in the exhibition). There is 6 Mukansa in nihonga section now including Yoichi Araki. 

Mukansa choose a judge every year. he is selected from Inten-school, Nitten-school and Sogakai-school (three big schools in nihonga today ) in rotation. This year they asked Chiori Miyakita to be judge.

.Yoichi Araki presents the works of his selected pupils .

I was surprised about the diversity of works and styles, although represented in the single discipline of nihonga. Some works are almost monochrome paintings while others have vivid and multi-coloured nuances. But as it is often in Nihonga, I find, that there is  harmony and a sense of balance that is special to it. The works are almost essentially figurative.

Araki Sensei‘s work is the portrait of his dog, a Barzoi. I can feel the sadness of this painting for his dog had recently died of bone cancer at only 11 years of age. His  colors softness and the subtlety of its fur doesn’t minimize his melancholic eyes depth .



This year the first prize was awarded once again to Mariko Yagi. This is the second time that she has received this award. I was very fortunate to be able to speak with her (she is fluent in English) and was particularly touched by her work.

Mariko Yagi came late to Nihonga. Graduating from university where she studied Wester- style painting, she then worked in the design domain for kimono. After spending some years as a housewife, she took up painting about ten years ago, studying with Araki sensei. She likes the diversity of possibilities offered by mineral pigments, which she does not find in oil paints.

She believes that the process of superposing the layers of pigments brings to the work an incomparable richness. “Regardless how many layers of pigments are applied, the initial drawing is always present.” One could draw a parallel with the human being.



For the first time, I can explore Mariko’s work which I had only seen in photographs. I am impressed by its format. And it imbibes me with a feeling of positivity just by looking at this work. It gets free of it as a soft invigorating energy. Such is the cycle of life . It shows a fossil (an ammonite) which forms as an ascending spiral pulling in its trail, flowers and butterflies in a harmony with natural tints of ochre.
Applying silver leaf around the drawing, Mariko painted successive layers of pigments.It took her 3 working months to complete it.

I notice that certain parts are more sketched. She held on painting the flowers of too fresh colors  she told me. “If you paint too much it does not work anymore”. “Less is more” seems to be the currency . It is necessary to realize the bet to make feel a length taken place by an economy of means however. Through the fossil, Mariko wanted to make feel an impression of age-old times,
With the material given by the crystals of mineral pigments and fine lines drawing, she  give the feeling of a work for a long time elaborated . Approaching closely we can see stars. It’s like if we could see the cosmos in the macrocosmos.


Remembering Kochi is the place of birth of the most famous Japanese botanistsTomitarô Makino, I asked Mariko-san for the  flower’s name which she represented. So you can recognize it as ‘ Casablanca “, the sunflower, the anemone, the dandelion, the blueberry, the wild vineyard, the wild berries, the ferns, the maple, the ginkgo, the cycads (kind of palm tree), lychens, jasmine of Asia. The spiral of flowers goes blooming and ends at the top of the picture by the appearance of seed pods. Symbolizing the movement of the past towards the future and the various stages of life. Seeds carry  the potential of life as well as an idea of the future. The presence of butterflies above the flowers symbolize short-lived life and remind us at the same time the impermanence and the present moment.

She named her work « Life »

In the 72nd kenten, Chiori Miyakita from Inten was chosen. Here is her comment on kenten. “Selecting the pictures, I focused on what made the painter moved and what he/she wanted to express. When it comes to technique or skill, you can gain it gradually. But it’s difficult how to express your impression. I think it’s more important and painters including me should keep it in mind consciously. I don’t care much about titles. However they often show the painter’s intention. The best thing is that you can understand his/her intention instantly without title. Mariko’s work was not necessary to ask the title. Regarding her work, first, preliminary design is excellent, second, its material (texture) is so beautiful. I can feel her sense of beauty and strong preferences. Entering the museum, I immediately knew her work is the best. It has more presence than others. The color is not vivid, but it really fascinates me.”


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Next teaching in Paris february


Nihonga workshop 4 days February 23, 24, 25, 26

Level: Beginners accepted

Duration: 4 days. From 10 am till 5 pm (one hour meal break, 30 minute morning break)
Materials: pigments, animal glue (nikawa), silk cotton, frame, Japanese paper, Japanese brushes.
Level: accessible any levels
Global objective: through the knowledge of the traditional materials, and technical exercises, to acquire the bases of the  traditional Japanese painting (nihonga) .
Intermediate objective:
Create 2 pictures (21/29,5) from a proposed motif or one brought by the participant, and several small sizes (12 /14 cm – 4.75 x 5.5 in) for the exercises (8 processes)


Day 1 and day 2:
Presentation of the participants and their expectations with regard to the course.
Presentation of materials, supports, Technical tools:
Preparation of the glue (nikawa)

Preparation of the paper (washi)

Mounting of the paper on a panel

How to prepare pigments

Preparation of the gofun

Sketch and its transfer

Drawing with ink


Various stylistic processes:
Backgrounds and media effects
Bokashi (gradation)
Katabokashi (bleeding one side of a painted line)
Sotoguma (bleeding the outside lines of a painted area)
Tarashikomi (stain in wet ink)
Momigami (creased paper)
Moriage (Relief painting)
Metal leaf (Altered, 2 techniques of oxidation with sulfur)
Technique of mawabata: absorbent silk cotton / juice of kaki (Kakishibu) as stencil


Day 3 and Day 4
Creation of an average size by choosing among techniques proposed during the first two days.
At the end of the day, a projection of clips of documentary movies about the nihonga (artists in the work) will be proposed

Cost: 4 day workshop 400 euros, or 100 euros per day + 30 euros annual membership

N.B.: the program can be adapted according to the schedule (workshop from 1 to 4 days)

For more information, please contact: 0609390742



Workshop views

Valérie Eguchi is French.
Painter trained in the traditional techniques of ornamental paint in 1987, she travelled repeatedly in Japan, where she discovered the practice of the Japanese paint Nihonga .

She was trained in 2007 with Yiching Chen at her “Pigments et Arts du Monde” association.

At the end of 3 years of studies and practice, fascinated by this mode of expression, she passes on her discoveries by means of initiations and by demonstrations.

Lieu: AGORA (maison des associations)

18 rue Aristide Briand à Issy les Moulineaux

A 5mn de la Station Tram T2 “Les Moulineaux”

(A 11mn de la Porte de Versailles à PARIS)

Best accomodation:

Hotel Ibis


Yoichi Araki, Artist in Kochi (Shikoku)

I introduced you to the  Nihonga teacher Yoichi Araki, now you will meet the artist and his world. Yoichi Araki is a painter who loves nature and animals.
Originally from Sapporo, an island located in the extreme North of Japan, he chose to live in the heart of the Shikoku Mountains, not far from the city of Kochi. A region with a landscape and a climate that contrasts sharply with that of Hokkaido.
Member of the Nihonga section of Kenten (Kochi Prefecture Art Fair) and member of Bijutsuin (日本 美術 , literally “Japan Art Institute”). He teaches Nihonga and is primarily an artist painter.
His two Barzois race dogs are his favorite subject. I must admit that I too have been fascinated by these dogs; his pictures taken during walks showed how they were in perfect symbiosis with nature.


In Japan, animal painting is noble, especially in the Nihonga. Since the practice of Nihonga is linked to the observation of nature, the painter adopts the qualities of the animal and likes to share his emotions.


Jubilating with the freedom found with the animal. The painter forgets himself before the beauty of the subject.

He sinks into the softness of a gaze, while his senses are gently caressed in the velvety coat of fur.

With him, minerals, earths, shell powder, gelatin and water create an alliance to express the beauty. With humility, he is at the service of nature.


In a conversation we had in a museum dedicated to Western style painting (oil painting), I asked Araki-Sensei what attracted him to Nihonga painting in comparison to painting with oil.
And here is what he said to me:
In Nihonga, we paint with space. We paint the atmosphere. (The Japanese word is Kuki 空気) We use mineral pigments (crushed minerals in fine powder), insoluble, particles leave space between them each time we cover them with another layer of pigments, this space is preserved. It can be felt between layers, and this space is like frozen through hundreds of layers of pigments. This does not exist in oil painting.
* Definition of the word kûki
is composed of the kanji (kû) meaning “the void, the sky” and the kanji (ki) which means “the spirit, the atmosphere”. If we refer to a dictionary, we can find the following definition: sono ba no fun’iki ( ) “The atmosphere of the place”. It is therefore a delimited space although kûki also denotes the air we breathe and more generally the atmosphere.
What are the painter and the dog looking for, in the water mirror of the Niyodo River?
“We only see well with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eyes”
St Exupery

“Uemura Shoen et la quintessence des Bijinga, les Peintures de Belles Femmes.”

“Uemura Shoen et la quintessence des Bijinga, les Peintures de Belles Femmes.” Yamatane Museum of Art (29 aout au 22 Octobre 2017)


Uemura Shoen (1875-1949) est un peintre nihonga qui eut une belle carrière pendant les périodes Meiji, Taisho et les premières années Showa. Se spécialisant dans le genre bijinga (les peintures de belles femmes), Shoen a voulu représenter des femmes non seulement parées dans leurs plus beaux atours, mais exprimer la quintessence de leur  beauté , capturant la grâce et la force des femmes.

Du 29 août par au 22 octobre 2017, le Musée Yamatane d’Art présentait 18 des peintures de Shoen à côté de 70 oeuvres supplémentaires par d’autres artistes célèbres.

Dans cet entretien, je parle à la journaliste et traductrice basée à Tokyo , Alice Gordenker, qui a donné  le 22 septembre  une visite guidée en anglais de l’exposition actuelle du musée, “Uemura Shoen et la quintessence des Bijinga, les Peintures de Belles Femmes.”

Eve : Alice, je vous remercie de prendre du temps sur votre programme chargé pour cet entretien via un courrier électronique.

Uemura Shoen (1875-1949) eut une carrière très brillante dans un domaine qui à l’époque appartenait en grande partie aux hommes. Malgré les défis à relever, elle fut une des rares femmes à être nommée artiste de la maison impériale ainsi que la première femme à se voir récompensée par l’Ordre de la Culture pour sa contribution à l’art japonais. Elle a aussi eu une vie privée très intéressante, ce que certains pouraient voir comme tout à fait moderne pour son temps. Pourriez-vous partager avec nous brièvement sur le contexte de Shoen et des anecdotes personnelles qui se détachent ?

Alice : Shoen est remarquable d’un certain nombre de façons, la moindre n’ est pas seulement sa réussite en tant qu’ artiste au long de sa vie, et comme vous avez indiqué – également parce qu’il y avait beaucoup d’obstacles pour les femmes en tant qu’artistes professionnels. Elle ne s’est jamais mariée, mais avait un fils, le futur peintre Uemura Shoko, qu’elle a élévé seule avec l’aide de sa mère, qui fut un grand soutien dans la carrière de Shoen. Plus tard, Shoen a aussi donné naissance à une fille.

Eve : Merci pour cette présentation de l’artiste. Que peuvent s’attendre à voir les visiteurs du musée à cette exposition ?


Alice: Tout d’abord, c’est une merveilleuse occasion de voir un grand nombre des peintures de Shoen réunies. Le fondateur du Musée Yamatane d’Art, Yamazaki Taneji (1893-1988), y a maintenu une grande proximité avec Shoen, encouragé par sa femme, qui était une grande adminatrice de son travail. Quand Shoen venait à Tokyo de Kyoto, par exemple, les Yamazakis envoyait une voiture pour elle et payaient la note pour son hôtel et ses repas. Cette proximité a permis à Yamazaki d’acquérir un grand nombre de ses peintures. Le Musée d’art Yamatane met en avant certaines des peintures les plus connues et les plus représentatives de Shoen, y compris “la Luciole” [1933, illustrant le prospectus du musée ci-dessus] et “Kinuta” [1938, présenté ci-dessous]. Avec un total de 18 oeuvres, elle est considéré une des meilleures collections Shoen.

Eve: l’exposition est divisée en quatre sections. Comment fut géré l’organisation de celle ci ?

Alice: Je n’ai pas été impliquée dans la planification de l’exposition, mais comme le Conservateur principal Takahashi Minako l’explique, le but de cette exposition était de présenter la collection complète des peintures de Shoen du musée ensemble à un moment donné. La première section de l’exposition-Uemura Shoen- fragrances de pierres précieuses- consiste en un impressionnant alignement de beautés en 17 peintures de Shoen. (“Kinuta” est montrée dans la deuxième section, des Femmes Célèbres de l’histoire et de la Littérature .)


Uemura Shōen 《Scene from the Noh Play Kinuta》, Color on Silk, Shōwa Period, 1938, Yamatane Museum of Art

Alice : la découverte de ces œuvres originales est tellement meilleure que de simples reproductions et il est aussi merveilleux de voir les montages – le hyoso – qui présente les peintures si admirablement. Shoen était très précise pour les montages de ses œuvres, choisissant souvent les tissus elle-même et dirigeant même le tissage de modèles spéciaux après commande.

Les Femmes célèbres des sections suivantes en Littérature et Histoire, Maiko et Geisha et des Beautés du passé et du présent, l’élégance du Costume japonais, beauté du costume Occidental – présentent une vaste gamme de belles femmes peintes par d’autres artistes, y compris des beautés Edo comme celles imaginées par Hishida Shunso (1874-1911) et Ikeda Terukata (1883-1921). Il y a aussi des peintures de femmes modernes en costume Occidental, comme mon favori de cette exposition, Le portrait d’une Dame (1957) par Ito Shinsui (1898-1972), que malheureusement je ne peux pas partager avec vous ici à cause du copyright.

Eve : Il y a aussi une section substantielle sur des reproductions dans l’exposition. Quelle relation ont les reproductions au genre de bijinga ?

Alice : Comme Takahashi-San l’explique, beaucoup de peintures de belles femmes ont été faites pendant la période Momoyama  à la période Edo;  résultat de la popularité naissante de la peinture de genre. Le style bijinga de la période Edo, qui inclut ukiyo-e, était très populaire parce qu’il décrivait pas seulement des femme avec de belles caractéristiques mais ont aussi parcequ’il dépeint des manières et des modes. Contrairement aux peintures, les copies pourraient être faites en grand nombre, apportant ces images nuancées de belles femmes à un beaucoup plus large public en aussi apportant de nouvelles idées et expressions au genre. À cette exposition, il y a quelques merveilleuses copies par des maîtres comme Suzuki Harunobu, Torii Kiyonaga. Kitagawa Utamaro et Tsukioka Yoshitoshi et vous pouvez vraiment voir les styles distincts et les caractéristiques de chaque artiste.

Eve : Cela semble merveilleux. Merci de partager sur l’exposition et j’aurais aimé pouvoir la voir. Je comprends que le 22 septembre le tour en anglais est déjà entièrement réservé. Y a-t-il des plans pour plus de visites et s’il en est ainsi, comment les gens peuvent s’inscrire?

Alice : C’est la première fois que j’organise une visite avec le Musée d’Art Yamatane , si tandis que rien n’est décidé tout de suite, nous sommes dans des discussions pour savoir comment nous pourrions nous fonder sur ce premier effort. J’annonce toutes les visites sur Facebook et par mon blog, donc les lecteurs peuvent suivre n’importe lequel d’entre ceux pour de nouveaux développements.

Eve : Guidez vous aussi des visites dans d’autres musées ?

Alice : Oui. Je dois aussi profiter de l’ occasion pour expliquer que c’est tout à fait inhabituel pour un musée au Japon de fournir des visites guidées dans des langues d’autres que le japonais. Quelques casques à écouteurs sur location dans les musées sont chargés de tours audio enregistrés en anglais en chinois et coréen, mais ceux-ci sont une exception plutôt quela règle(l’autorité).

Eve : je vois. Je travaille pour la Galerie nationale à Singapour et je peux me représenter la quantité de travail (et l’argent!), y compris le temps nécessaire pour produire des guides audio dans des langues différentes

Alice: oui, particulièrement pour des expositions spéciales avec des programmations temporaires. Donc, tandis que quelques musées fournissent vraiment des guides audio dans des langues étrangères, c’est plus inhabituel pour un musée au Japon de fournir un guide conférencier en personne qui peut guider un groupe avec des explications en anglais ou d’autres langues étrangères. Les conservateurs de musée au Japon sont très occupés, avec beaucoup de responsabilités différentes et peu sont à l’aise pour donner des conférences dans des langues autres que le japonais.

Eve: peut-il être fait par des volontaires, comme c’est dle cas ans d’autres pays?

Alice : En principe, oui, mais le bénévolat n’est pas répandu au Japon en comparaison d’ autres pays et il n’y a pas actuellement de système organisé pour former des volontaires de musée comme celui qui existe, par exemple, à Singapour. Il est possible que ceci puisse changer à un certain point de l’avenir ; par exemple comme le Japon se prépare pour les Jeux paralympiques et Olympiques de 2020, qui se tiendront à Tokyo et s’attendent à attirer des millions de visiteurs étrangers. À ce propos, le Musée d’Art Yamatane  a été très actif tant pour les visites en langue étrangère qu’en recrutement de bénévoles . De 2010 jusqu’à tout à fait récemment un petit nombre de volontaires, formés par le personnel de musée, faisait des visites en anglais, français et même l’italien. Malheureusement, ce programme s’est terminé quand le dernier des volontaires est retourné dans pays d’origine. Mais Mme Takahashi propose de guider les visites à la demande en anglais et le musée est certainement ouvert à travailler avec de nouveaux volontaires.

Eve: Étant donné les obstacles mentionnés, comment avez vous pu accéder aux visites de musée?

Alice: j’ai donné ma première visite guidée dans un musée au Japon en 2014, à Tokyo pour le Musée Photographique D’art (qui était alors connu sous le nom de Metropolitan Museum de Tokyo de Photographie), pour une exposition sur le premier Photographe japonais Shimooka Renjo. J’ai fait la traduction pour l’exposition, préparant non seulement des panneaux et des légendes en anglais, mais aussi des communiqués de presse et les versions anglaises des matériaux de référence qui ont été inclus dans un livre. J’ai travaillé très étroitement avec le conservateur responsable, Mitsui Keishi.

Il désirait partager de nombreuses nouvelles découvertes présentées dans cette exposition avec un aussi large public que possible, il a alors suggéré que je donne deux visites guidées en anglais. Elle ont été bien reçues,  donc j’ai continué à faire des visites de ses expositions sur les débuts de la photographie japonaise.

Eve: j’ai vu des indications sur des visites dans quelques autres musées, est ce exact ?

Alice: oui, j’ai aussi guidé un certain nombre de visites en anglais au Musée Métropolitain d’Art de Teien , le Musée d’Art Shoto et le Musée d’Art Toguri qui est un merveilleux petit musée se spécialisant dans la porcelaine japonaise Ko-Imari.

Eve : En aparté, je suis impressionnée par le travail que vous faites. Vous êtes aussi une journaliste établie, chroniqueuse de longue date au Japan Times et l’auteur de plusieurs livres . Par-dessus le marché vous traduisez et avez été productrice et présentatrice de TV Comment gérez-vous tant d’activités ?

Alice : Il peut sembler que je fais énormément de choses différentes, mais le fil conducteur de tous ces efforts est la présentation du Japon en anglais. C’est l’oeuvre de ma vie et j’ai l’intention de continuer à le faire tant que pourrai avoir des occasions de partager sur le Japon avec le monde, comme j’ai été si gentiment invitée à le faire par le Musée Yamatane d’Art.

Uemura Shoen et la quintessence  des Bijinga , les Peintures de Belles Femmes sont au Musée Yamatane d’Art du 29 août au 22 octobre 2017. (Fermé le 19 septembre, le 10 octobre et tous les lundis, à part le 18 septembre et le 9 octobre.)

Heures: 10h00 – 17h00 (la Dernière admission à 16h30)

Droits d’entrée: Adultes: 1,000 [800] yen; lycéens et universitaires: 800 [700] yen; collège et plus jeunes enfants: gratuitement

Pour rester informé des activités diverses d’Alice Gordenker et recevoir une info sur les prochaines visites guidées , on peut la suivre sur Facebook ou souscrire à son blog https://alicegordenker.wordpress.com





“Uemura Shōen and Quintessential Bijinga, Paintings of Beautiful Women” at the Yamatane Museum of Art (29 August-22 October 2017)

“Uemura Shōen and Quintessential Bijinga, Paintings of Beautiful Women” at the Yamatane Museum of Art (29 August-22 October 2017)

Interview with Alice Gordenker by Eve Loh Kazuhara 

With special thanks to Minako Takahashi (Head Curator) and Yurie Noda (Press and Public Relations) of Yamatane Museum of Art

Uemura Shōen (1875–1949) was an enduring nihonga painter who had a successful career spanning the Meiji, Taishō and early Shōwa years. Specialising in a genre known as bijinga (paintings of beautiful women), Shōen wanted to portray women not only dressed in their finest, but to express beauty from the inside out, capturing grace and resilience of women.

From 29 August through to 22 October 2017, the Yamatane Museum of Art is showcasing 18 of Shōen’s paintings alongside 70 additional works by other famous artists.

In this interview, I speak to Tokyo-based journalist and translator Alice Gordenker, who on Sept. 22 will give a guided tour in English of the museum’s current exhibition, “Uemura Shōen and the Quintessential Bijinga, Paintings of Beautiful Women.”

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Japanese painting (nihonga) classes in Paris

Learn nihonga with Valérie Eguchi

With Nihonga, I suggest discovering the feel of the material, and the play of the shines and matte effects due to the brightness of the crystals in the pigments, metallic sheets and oxidations.
In Japanese painting all the materials are prepared by the artist.
Once a basic sketch is completed, individual pigments are mixed with some water and Nikawa on a small dish.
Nihonga gives us a sense of inner peace and brings us outside of our day-to-day urgencies.
We are able to do this because of the time taken to prepare for each painting. It is also a time of necessary reflection for every element entering the composition of the picture.
These initiations into Nihonga take place under the guidance of the instructor through workshops, or regular courses in Paris, and in Issy les Moulineaux (sud Paris )
The workshops take place in a quiet environment, in which each participant receives equal attention and is able to share the knowledge imparted by the instructor.

2019 Dates

Fébruary: 23/24/25/26

March: 9/10

Avril: 6/7

May: 25/26

June: 15/16

Juillet: 6/7

Aout:  3/4/5/6

With Nihonga today, artists compete using elements of craft and creativity to create new effects.
Shinji Matsumura, a japanese painter, Shu-Chen a Taïwanese painter, used those effects for some of their creations..

Discover the effects of silk cotton applied to metal leaf
We use some silk cotton which we stretch on a chassis, to create a natural cotton lace.
This lace is solidified with the kakeshi boeshi (juice of fermented khaki otherwise known as persimmon).
The lace then serves as a stencil through which we shall fix pigments, metallic powders or metallic sheets.
Models are then proposed to realize a small picture
Places are limited to 5 persons
Different effects:

Shu-Chen present this technic in a video
For more information, please contact: 0609390742