Masterpieces of the Pola Museum of Art
Japanese Western-Style Painting
Mar. 23(Sat)-Jul. 28(Sun), 2019
Meiji period (1867-1912), Western-style painting (yōga) artists Koyama Shotaro and Asai Chu studied under Italian painter Antonio Fontanesi who was contracted by the Meiji government as a foreign advisor to teach at the Fine Arts School of the Ministry of Industry Imperial College of Engineering. Koyama and Asai built the foundation of modern Western-style painting in Japan with their soulful landscapes marked by balanced compositions and muted colors following their teacher’s French Barbizon school influence.
Kuroda Seiki returned to Japan from study in France in 1893. Along with Fujishima Takeji, Okada Saburosuke, and Wada Eisaku, he formed the Hakuba-kai artists group whose vibrant colors, depiction of bright outdoor light, and free expression caused a stir at the time. Along with being leaders in developing the field of Japanese Western-style painting, they contributed to the establishment of academism in Japanese art as educators training young Western-style painters.
In the milieu of democratic trends during the Taisho period (1912-1926), young Western-style painters Kishida Ryusei, Nakamura Tsune, and Murayama Kaita began pursuing expressions of individuality and diversity. Inspired by foreign and Japanese art movements they observed in exhibitions and art journals, they sought new expression in unrestrained emotion. In the first half of the Showa period, Western-style painting matured and became more sophisticated. Umehara Ryuzaburo and Yasui Sotaro ushered in a new era of Japanese Western-style painting by introducing an aesthetic of Japanese beauty apart from imitation of Western painting.