Tsuchida Bakusen and Japanese art: Sado Island

Tsuchida Bakusen and Japanese art: Sado Island

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tsuchida Bakusen (1887-1936) was known for Nihonga-style art and his innovative approach. His early cultural traits come from the delightful Sado Island in Japan.

Bakusen will have known about the deep connection of the Buddhist monk Nichiren (1222-1282) with Sado Island. This revered Buddhist monk was exiled to this island – concerning his outspoken views about Buddhism and society.

Similar to Nichiren, Bakusen was strong-spirited and independent. However, despite his father hoping that Bakusen would become a Buddhist monk, he had other ideas. Hence, Bakusen followed the artistic path.

The Hiroshima Museum says, “A Japanese-style painter of the Kyoto circle. He was active chiefly in the National Creative Painting Association (the Koku-ten), an advanced art society to promote a new Japanese-style paintings mixed with the Western arts and Asian arts. However, later he came back to the Salon of Japan.”

Bakusen fostered and developed his artistic talents in Kyoto. The Adachi Museum says, “After entering the Kyoto City Specialist School of Painting (Kyoto City Kaiga Sen-mon Gakko) in 1909, he began focusing on Western modern art. He sought for free expression of characteristics, and developed an avant-garde art movement. In 1918, he participated in establishing the Association for the Creation of New Japanese-style Painting (Kokuga Sosaku Kyokai). He pursued the harmony between Western paintings and Japanese decoration. In his later years, he created works that offer intelligent aesthetics and warm interiority.”

Bakusen from a young age was connected to Sado Island despite Kyoto being pivotal for his art. Buddhism, high culture, literature, and other traditions from Sado Island and Kyoto remained entrenched within his artistic soul.

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