Japan art and Ito Shinsui: Landscapes and nature

Japan art and Ito Shinsui: Landscapes and nature

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Ito Shinsui (1898-1972) became famous for his bijin-ga art of beautiful ladies. He was part of the shin-hanga art movement. However, during the early period of his career, he created lovely landscapes. 

Shinsui was born during the Meiji Period. Indeed, despite the Meiji Period ending in 1912 to be replaced by the Taisho Period (1912-1926): he was forced to work from around ten years of age in the last two years of Meiji. This concerned the poverty of this family.

Thus Shinsui began to work for the Tokyo Printing Company in 1910. The following year, Shinsui began to develop his art and was employed in the drawing section. Therefore, he combined work and studied art from a very young age. 

The British Museum says, “The ‘Nihonga’ artist Yuki Somei (1875-1957) introduced him to the neo-‘Ukiyo-e’ painter Kaburaki Kiyokata (1879-1973) who accepted him as a pupil. From this time he earned a living as an illustrator, which he continued to do through much of his career, though it became inessential as he grew in fame.”

The Japanese government utilized art during the Pacific War. Hence, Shinsui, and others, did Japanese propaganda art. Shinsui visited the Netherlands East Indies and China during the war period. Therefore, one can only imagine how this period impacted Shinsui and what he witnessed. 

It is difficult to connect the delightful landscapes by Shinsui and his bijin-ga art with the war period.

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