Japan art and Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950): Lover of nature

Japan art and Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950): Lover of nature

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950) was influenced by Western-style painting and internal artistic traditions. Nature especially appealed to Yoshida. Therefore, the natural beauty of nature was meant to transfix the viewer of his art.

He was born in the city of Kurume (Fukuoka prefecture) and was inspired by his adoptive father. When 19, he moved to the cultural city of Kyoto and studied Western-style art under his teacher Tamura Shoryu. This was followed by moving to Tokyo and increasing his artistic skills under Koyama Shotaro.

The Museum of Art (MOA) says, “Yoshida Hiroshi (1876 – 1950) was a central figure in the artists’ society, Taiheiyogakai, leading Western-style painting in the genres of watercolor, oil painting and woodblock printing in Japan in the early 20th century. He had drawings published as woodblock prints at the age of 44 and produced his first collection when he was 49. Yoshida aimed to create a new style by bringing together the realistic rendering of European paintings and techniques of traditional Japanese woodblock printing.”

Yoshida depicted scenes from a world that is very different from today. Hence, his 1931 prints envisaged Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Singapore. However, in this period of history, neither Pakistan nor Singapore existed. Therefore, the convulsions of the British Empire – still rumbling on today from ethnic tensions in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Bangladesh), Fiji, Nigeria (Biafra), Rakhine (Myanmar), and many other nations – is a reminder that the world of Yoshida was very different.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum says, “…After achieving renown as a landscape painter, Yoshida in the second half of his career took up the challenge of the woodblock print and pioneered new possibilities in printmaking. Walking deep in the mountains, he experienced nature intensely and depicted the movement of light and flowing water with great sensitivity…”

Overall, the angle of nature is what shines brightest in the art of Yoshida.


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