Masaaki Miyasako

Solo Exhibition—Iji Dōzu

Miyasako Masaaki
Professor Emeritus
Tokyo University of the Arts


As the result of a kind invitation from the Ippodo Gallery, I will be holding my first exhibition for a long time. The title of the exhibition, “Iji Dōzu,” expresses a worldview in which relative elements intermingle across different dimensions. Until the seventeenth century, European culture could only reach Japan via the Silk Road, and during its journey it became mixed with aspects of Central Asian culture through a process of repeated imitation, acceptance and transformation. With the advent of the Edo period Japan adopted a policy of national seclusion, becoming recluse regardless of the will of society as a whole. During that period, the people felt confined, as if Japan were a small barrel into which they had been squashed, and their frustration began to ferment until eventually, they discovered a new system of values that differed completely from the original.
This gave rise to the Japanese culture known as “Japonisme,” although its roots already existed as far back as the Heian period (794–1185), when Japanese culture is considered to have reached its peak.
I have experimented in changing dimensions within a painting. One example of this is the face of the Buddha painted on the wall of the Main Hall of Hōryūji temple—the eyes and jeweled crown are depicted facing forward while the nose and outline of the face are shown in profile, expressing the front and profile within a single facial expression.
At this point in time, Cubism has already succeeded in depicting three-dimensions within a two-dimensional world. In addition, there are works like, Shigisan Engi Emaki (an illustrated handscroll depicting stories about Mt. Shigi), in which the scenes of rice bails flying through the air or the pilgrimage to the shrine, succeed in capturing the passage of time within a painting, the use of the Iji Dōzu technique making it possible to express a four-dimensional world within a picture. In this exhibition, “Iji Dōzu,” I have succeeded in creating works that transcend the expression of “reclusion” to “release,” or “I mustn’t do this” to “I want to do this.” Furthermore, through the employment of a deformation lamp, using the latest digital technology, the branches of a weeping cherry tree seem to bend and ripples to appear in the surface of the river. Sometimes relative elements straddling the dimensions appear intertwined, other times they seem to fly freely, surpassing time and space and I hope that you will enjoy this experiment in moving between dimensions within genre of nihonga paintings.
In closing, I would like to express my gratitude to Aono Keiko, president of the Ippodo Gallery, who offered her support to the aims of this project and provided the venue for this exhibition, as well as to NTT, and the researcher, Yamauchi Shōta, who helped to create the deformation lamp.




For the Miyasako Masaaki Exhibition

Keiko Aono

Ippodo Gallery

When Miyasako Masaaki visited the Ippodo Gallery in March of this year to view the exhibition of Kishino Shō’s wood sculpture, I found myself so attracted to his bright, happy character and dynamism that I later went to visit him at his laboratory at the Tokyo University of the Arts.
In one corner of the university’s campus there is a brand-new building that houses the Super Clone Cultural Properties Laboratory. Containing the latest scientific equipment and a wide range of tools, it attracts students of outstanding talent, and it was here that they recreated an Asuka period (592-710) mural and the statues of a seated Shaka Nyorai (Shakyamuni), flanked by two attendants from the Main Hall of Hōryūji temple. Not limiting itself to Japanese art, the laboratory has also created clones of cultural properties from around the world and seeing all these, it made me proud to be Japanese.
Next, Miyasako Masaaki showed me one of his paintings. It was a quiet work but possessing great depth and beauty, I found myself very moved and my pulse raced. That was when I invited him to hold an exhibition at the Ippodo Gallery.
His most famous series of paintings, Mizu hanabi [Water Fireworks], protray the moment in which a fisherman casts his net into the water, depicting it in a beautiful, delicate fashion. In his Concerto and Weeping Cherry Tree works he employs digital technology to make it appear as if the surface of the water is moving. The theme for this exhibition is “Iji Dōzu” (a Japanese composition method used to show successive events within a united background)” and its object is to add the dimension of time to still pictures.
His nihonga-style paintings employ the urazaishiki technique, developed for Buddhist paintings during the Heian to Kamakura periods (794-1333), and also employed by the Edo-period (1603–1868) artist, Itō Jakuchū. This involves applying color to paper, then pasting a piece of very fine, silk fabric over it, the texture of the silk creating light and shade, and through the overpainting of color, it produces a great feeling of depth and translucency. He is very particular about the handmade paper, pigments and thin silk he uses, taking great care in their selection.
In a book of his paintings, we find the following passage: “I live with dreams as my staple diet. I live within my dreams. I live together with my dreams.”
Through overwhelming enthusiasm and endeavor, he has succeeded in bringing his dreams closer, giving birth to beautiful paintings that will be passed down to future generations.
I think that I too can “live with my dreams” inside his paintings.