Yokoyama Taikan, the Painter of Modern Japan is 150 Years Old


"Gunjo Fuji", around 1917, Taikan Yokoyama, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art

The current retrospective at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto is celebrating the one hundred and fifty years anniversary of the birth of the prolific painter Taikan Yokoyama, one of the key figures of modern Japanese art, recognised during his lifetime as an artist who subverted the norm and changed opinion.

Having graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, Yokoyama began working under his mentor, the critic Tenshin Okakura at the Academy of Fine Arts with Okakura encouraging his pupils to find ways of representing a general atmosphere. Together the two contributed to the emergence of nihonga, which litteraly means Japanese drawing, a movement which aided the subtle modernisation of traditional painting. Working principally with ink, Yokoyama accorded a particular significance to pigmentation. Lines and forms fade away to allow a harmony of colours and a spirituality within his compositions, giving way to the subtlety of a modern Japan which was emerging.

Important Cultural Property "Metempsychosis" (part), 1923, Taikan Yokoyama, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

"Yozakura", 1929, Taikan Yokoyama, Okura Museum of Art

"Koyo", 1931, Taikan Yokoyama, Adachi Museum of Art