September 9(Sat)-October 15 (Sun),2017
Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878–1972) was a leading Japanese-style painter in modern Japan. Active from the turn of the twentieth century into post-World War II times, he is widely known for having forged a unique style in the so-called bijinga, or beautiful women painting, genre. With 2017 marking the forty-fifth anniversary of his death, we will be holding an exhibit to once again look back on his paintings.
Kiyokata started studying under the Japanese-style painter Toshikata Mizuno at the age of thirteen in 1891, and then successfully launched his artistic career as an illustrator. From around 1901 he started working on large paintings meant for display, and received acclaim at exhibitions such as those of the Ministry of Education. He was a central figure in painting circles of his time. Around the middle of the twentieth century, he began to work on portraits, creating paintings that brought out the interiority of his subjects.
We also cannot overlook the artworks he created that stand in contrast to his large paintings meant for exhibitions and the like. This smaller “tabletop art”—handscroll paintings, painting albums, accordion-style books, and so on—reflect the essence of Kiyokata’s artistry. He created many of such artworks, including ones about stories by Ichiyo Higuchi, which he had enthusiastically read since he was a teenager, and Kyoka Izumi, who he had gotten to know in his twenties due to through illustration work. In them, a unique world unfolds out of Kiyokata’s refined sensibilities.
In cooperation with the Kaburaki Kiyokata Memorial Art Museum, this is the first exhibition in the Shikoku region that provides an overview of Kiyokata’s painting career. Through approximately fifty works—including the bijinga (beautiful women paintings) Courtesan, Cool Morning, and Festival Gallery, portraits like Yoshinobu Tokugawa, and literature-based “tabletop artwork” such as Tale of Onatsu and Seijuro—visitors can enjoy Kiyokata’s poetic world.
1. Kaburaki Kiyokata’s Paintings and His Life
Kaburaki Kiyokata( Kaburaki Ken’ichi) was born in 1878 in Kanda, Tokyo to his father Jhono Saigiku, a popular literature author and journalist, and his mother Fumi. In 1891 at the age of thirteen, he began studying under the Japanese-style painter Toshikata Mizuno, who was an illustrator for Yamato Shinbun, a newspaper founded by Saigiku. Subsequently he began using the name “Kiyokata” and made illustrations for newspapers and literary magazines.
From around 1897 he began working on paintings for exhibitions, and displayed his original works at exhibitions of the Ugokai, an association of young people aiming to become Japanese-style painters, as well as at the Ministry of Education's art exhibitions, which began in 1907. While he submitted his work 《Kyokutei Bakin》 to the Ministry of Education's first exhibition, it was not selected. However, subsequently his artwork was selected for the ministry’s third exhibition, and his 《Day of Trial》 was displayed at the twelfth exhibition after being exempted from exhibition’s the screening process due to Kiyokata’s artistic accomplishments. For the Imperial Art Academy exhibitions that began in 1919, he served on the jury, and also displayed major works such as A Bewitching Mermaid, 《Cool of the Morning》, and 《Tsukiji Akashicho》. After the end of World War II, the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition was launched. However, after presenting his 《Portrait of My Late Teacher》 at it in 1949, he refrained from displaying works at exhibitions.
This section primarily introduces artworks from when he began producing them for exhibitions to those of his later years, and reflects on stylistic changes and his life.
2. Literature and Stories
Kiyokata once remarked, “I aimed to be an illustrator because it was something in close proximity to writing.” From a young age he had a deep interest in literature, and many of his works are based on literary, light novel, kabuki, and other stories. He called smaller pieces that allow one to enjoy up-close their illustration-like coloring and brush strokes “tabletop art.” Kiyokata enjoyed making such works. They had an appeal different than large works painted for spacious exhibition venues, and also were fit for an era with pervasive printing technology.
This second section will present the artworks Kiyokata created based on the writings of authors—such as Higuchi Ichiyo, who he had enthusiastically read since he was a teenager, and Izumi Kyoka, who he had become deeply acquainted with—as well as his pieces featuring kabuki and theater motifs, delving into the literary and story elements deeply enmeshed in Kiyokata’s creations. Through these artworks, one can get a sense of the fascinating “tabletop art” that Kiyokata advocated.
3. The Essence of Kiyokata’s Art
After beginning his career as an artist in illustrating, Kiyokata’s so-called bijinga (paintings of beautiful women) that share with us the customs of Japan during the Meiji period (1868–1912) received high acclaim. Today, he is still known as a master of this genre. As mentioned in Section 2, he also created many works to be enjoyed close up, from painting albums to handscroll story illustrations. He referred to these as “tabletop art.” Furthermore, around the middle of the twentieth century he began working on portraits, creating magnificent artworks that captured their subject’s interiority.
Kiyokata was also a skilled writer, and left behind many writings, including his autobiography Koshikata no ki. These are very valuable materials through which we can find out about not only his own production of artworks but also aspects of the art world, culture, and lifestyles of his time.
This third section provides an overview of his various artworks, including bijinga, genre paintings, “tabletop art” diaries and illustrations, and portraits, and, while sharing Kiyotaka’s own words, tries to draw closer to the essence of his art.
《Cool of the Morning》1925
- September 9(Sat)-October 15(Sun),2017
- TAKAMATSU ART MUSEUM
It will be open on the public holiday Monday, September 18 and closed the following day (Tuesday, September 19).
- Monday - Saturday & Holidays: 9:30 - 19:00 (Entry until 18:30)
Sunday: 9:30 - 17:00 (Entry until 16:30) ／ (9：30-17：00)
- Organized by:
- TAKAMATSU ART MUSEUM
- Kamakura City Kaburaki Kiyokata Memorial Art Museum KAMAKURA ARTS FOUNDATION Seigensha Art Publishing,Inc.
- Yasuhiro Shimada（Art critic） Ayako Imanishi(curator of Kamakura City Kaburaki Kiyokata Memorial Art Museum）
【General ／ Seniors 65+】1,000yen（800yen)
【College students】500yen (400yen)
【High school age or younger】Admission free
※Advance Purchase and Groups of 20 or More Get Discounts (pricing in parenthesis)
※Free admission for those with a physical disability certificate, rehabilitation certificate, or mental disability certificate.
- Telephone Inquiry
- Takamatsu Art Museum