退蔵院方丈襖絵プロジェクト Taizo-in Hojo Fusuma-e Painting Project

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New model to preserve existing cultural properties and create new legacies

This is a joint project between Taizo-in and Kyoto University of Art and Design. The two main purposes are to preserve cultural properties and train a young artist. An unknown young painter will finish drawing up sixty-four fusuma-e* of the main hall of Taizo-in temple by the fall of 2013.

* Fusuma-e are the sliding paper screens that are used to divide up interior space in traditional Japanese building architecture.

Amongst its many treasures, Taizo-in houses a number of fusuma-e screens painted in the Azuchi Momoyama era (1573-1603) by master Kano-Ryokei. These are national important cultural properties.

These screens were drawn at the beginning of 1600 and they are so badly damaged by age that they have been removed and now are kept in a safe. This is common practice for temples and shrines across Japan. In general the original cultural properties are kept in safe storage and reproductions or plain fusuma sheets are used on display.

However, there is a danger that once this method of turning our history into a time capsule is adopted as standard practice an entire genre of art will disappear and there will be no stimulus to develop new cultural properties and the next generation of great artists.

Taizo-in felt uneasiness about this situation, and has launched unprecedented new project, in which a young artist will draw a new Indian ink painting on a plain fusuma.

About four hundred years ago large temples and local warlords employed in-house artists for fusuma paintings. The artists lived in the temples and warlords’ residence, and got a thorough training in spiritual improvement, and drew many masterpiece fusuma paintings that future generations are still enjoying.

This fusuma-e project at Taizo-in has adopted the same methods as in those days. The project has important meaning: it takes seriously its responsibility to train a young artist, and it is the first support to launch out into the world as an artist.

Further, Taizo-in has sets out to establish a new model for both preserving existing cultural properties and creating new legacies, and making Kyoto as “the capital of Arts” even more appealing throughout the world.

How was the young artist chosen?

Requirements to be a painter of the fusuma-e painting project

It was decided that the painter of the project should be a young and talented artist, have some connection with Kyoto, have the courage to accomplish the project, and respect religion and culture.

Taizo-in invited artists fulfilling these requirements to apply for the project, and in March 2011 Ms Yuki Murabayashi was selected from the many applicants.

Ms Murabayashi is a young vigorous artist who has engaged in painting activities based on a girl’s comic. Her works have been shown in a number of exhibitions.

2008 Grand Prix Award “AMUSE ARTJAM in Kyoto”
2008 Excellency Award, “JEANS FACTORY ART AWARD 20008”
2009 Project Award, “Gallery RAKU 2010”

Future Activities of the project

In the first stage of the project that will take place over the summer of 2011, Ms Murabayashi will study Indian-ink painting and receive training in Zen Buddhism. From this September she will set about producing fusuma paintings. The painter will live in Taizo-in until the completion of the project in fall 2013, in the same way as four hundred years ago. This will enable her to continue practicing Zen and deepen her knowledge of it, and so bring this into her work on the paintings.

Taizo-in is planning to provide visitors with opportunities to view the production activities of fusuma painting. The temple expects visitors to see the process of creating artworks for posterity at first hand and get the feel of something with the skin as well as appreciate the works.

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