Mist, Mountain, and Rivers

“Mist, Mountain, and Rivers” 165 x 336 Four-fold Screen
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery Collection


 In my mid-thirties, I started feeling lost as to what I should paint. Not getting an award at The Japan Art Institute Exhibition, I felt a kind of slump in my work, I became skeptical about the direction of my paintings. As if running away, I stayed in the mountain around Ichinokurasawa and Niigata, and kept myself busy sketching what presented itself in front of me in nature as it was. Making my mind blank, my eyes and fingers become one. Such a time. It was work to translate wild nature brush stroke by brush stroke. Through keeping at such work, my mind regained self-confidence, found pleasure in painting nature as it was, and developed a renewed spirit ready for a challenge.

 The center of the picture is the top of the Mount Kirin in Niigata where the Agano River and the Tokonami River converge.
 To the left is the stream of the big river, and to the right is the inside of the cliff. Climbing out on a narrow ridge of the rock mountain, the landscape near the mountain’s top is wild and surrounded by a forest of pine trees. The grand view from the lone peak is amazing. I wanted to fully paint this quintessential Japanese mountain and river and traveled there many days.
 One rainy day on the way to the top, I was discouraged by the rain. I was thinking “I will not be able to paint in this pouring rain,” but then the rain stopped like a gift from heaven, and I was shown a view where mist was moving around like a living creature. The view changed by the second, and it was like a spectacular show of heaven and mountain, water and wind. It was an incredible time that made my heart pound in my chest.
 I wanted to describe this feeling of awe in a big media, so I challenged myself to use a folding screen for the first time.
 Since then, describing the beautifully humid Japanese landscape became an important theme for me to pursue, and it will continue to be so in the future.