Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942) and the world of artistic dreams

Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942) and the world of artistic dreams

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942) lit up the Japanese art world with his atmospheric approach during a period of international conflict. For example, he went outside traditional boundaries by creating a world of dreams. Of course, not all art by Sekka was based on this dimension. However, without a doubt, certain areas of his art are like never-never land. 

Art and design became overtly simplistic for Sekka from a very early age. Also, the rich cultural angle of Kyoto seems a million miles away. Therefore, creativity, individualism, and pushing boundaries when needed – were part and parcel of the art Sekka produced. 

The Tokyo Fuji Art Museum says, “Kamisaki Sekka was born in Kyoto, with the real name of Yoshitaka. At the age of sixteen he became a student of Zuigen Suuki, studying Shijo school painting, and in 1888 went on to study under Kokei Kishi, an Imperial Household artist and designer. Around this time he became acquainted with Yajiro Shinagawa, who had experience as a diplomat. Sekka was influenced by the things he learned from Shinagawa about decorative art in Europe.”

The Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art says, “Kamisaka Sekka (1866–1942) was an influential nihon-ga painter and designer in early 20th century Kyoto. Upon visiting Europe at the turn of the 20th century to study the latest movements in arts and crafts, Sekka began to see the beauty of traditional Japanese decorative arts in a new light. He both emulated the style of the 17th-century Rimpa school and fused classical and modern ideas and moved freely between the fields of fine art and design.”

In truth, Sekka is the last great master of the rinpa (rimpa) art movement. Yet, true to the spirit of Sekka, his rinpa style of art was far from the traditionalist approach. Hence, the dreamy feel – and utter freshness of his art – entails that his art remains potent in modern Japan. 

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