Contemporary Japanese Artist inspired by the Kano School: Shinto Priest and Adorable Landscape

Contemporary Japanese Artist inspired by the Kano School: Shinto Priest and Adorable Landscape

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Kano School of Art is extremely renown for its deep roots that began in the later parts of the 15th century, to the ultimate demise of this art form when modernization altered the landscape of Japan. Of course, the heyday was long gone for artists who followed the precepts of Kano art before the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Despite this, from the 15th century and until the last major Kano inspired artist of Hashimoto Gaho who passed away in 1908, the longevity says much about this unique style that blessed the land of the rising sun.

Not surprisingly, the Kano School of Art in the realm of high culture remains vividly potent based on the rich legacy of so many famous artists. Yet, for the contemporary Japanese artist, Sawako Utsumi, she utilizes aspects of the originals while negating the traditions of the Kano School of Art. In other words, it is the visual realm that inspires Utsumi. Therefore, her independent oil paintings are part of an homage to the potency of many famous Kano artists, yet adapting to the reality of the day based on using the original ideas through “a changed mirage” and “the changed reality of modern Japan.”

In the current trilogy – that may be expanded in time – Utsumi utilizes the adorable art of Kano Motonobu (1476-1559), Kano Utanosuke (1513-1575), and Kano Chikanobu (1660-1728). However, Utsumi only does this based on the originals and then moves well away from the precepts of Kano art forms. The upshot is three delightful art pieces titled The Fading Spirit of Kano Chikanobu Awakened by Shintoism, In the Shadow of the Past: Utsumi and the Kano School, and her latest art piece titled the Spirit of Kano through the Prism of a Shinto Priest and Adorable Landscape.

Utsumi highlights the originality of her own thought patterns by adding Shintoism to the theme of the originals, while obviously, her oil paintings are in-line with usual conventions that have nothing to do with the Kano School of Art. Hence, the independent spirit of Utsumi is clearly visible. Similarly, like “a mirage of fusions” that “alter based on the passage of time,” Utsumi ironically focuses on an idea neglected in the originals that is much older than the Kano School of Art. This relates to the strong Shinto theme that transpires to a greater extent in her latest art piece titled the Spirit of Kano through the Prism of a Shinto Priest and Adorable Landscape.

Indeed, it is clear that the Shinto priest is in full contemplation while looking at the Shinto shrine in the small Japanese hamlet. In other words, the Shinto priest is negating the full landscape of stunning mountains and the abundant water on view. Instead, the man of religion is looking straight in a loving way at the shrine that means so much to him, in a way that says Shintoism is the whole despite the limited space of the shrine. This naturally follows on from the broad reality of this faith that is extremely diverse but lives on within the embodiment of nature and past ancestors.


Book Review: Sawako Utsumi and her Kindred Spirit

European and Japanese Art: Buddhism, Christianity, Landscapes, Rinpa, Shintoism, Ukiyo-e, and Dutch Masters – Please click on to order the book.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

DONATIONS to SUPPORT MODERN TOKYO TIMES – please pay PayPal and DONATE to Modern Tokyo Times – International News and Japan News – Sawako Utsumi personal website and Modern Tokyo Times artist Modern Tokyo News – Tokyo News and International News Global Security News – Geopolitics and Terrorism



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: