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    Art of Teruko Hiramatsu
  • "Tradition and avant-garde"
  •  Contemporary artist Teruko Hiramatsu has played a more active part overseas thanin Japan. However she has always pursued art with a Japanese feel. Although sheaimed for the top in contemporary art, she did not lose sight of the legitimate soul of Japanese traditional art. It is said that tradition is not set in concrete, it must change as time goes by.
     Teruko Hiramatsu's art is phantasmagorical. She was born in 1921 and has always
    faced new challenges in her 87 years. One of her themes is her version of "beauty".
    That is an aligning of very orthodox Japanese view on beauty with innovative and
    original technique and expression. This innovative expression is easily understood,
    when seen in her drawings. This guide tries to put her innovative expression into
     What are the foundations of Japanese traditional culture?
     The national flag of Japan symbolizes a rising sun, the red circle the sun itself and
    the surrounding white area the universe. In addition, the red symbolizes life and the
    white, Shintoist purity. The Japanese national flag projects the idea of universal
     What is the meaning of the Kanji "Nihon"? The hieroglyph "日" symbolizes the sun
    and "日本" together mean "nationhood" based on the concept "sun".
     Japanese culture goes back to the ancient Jomon and Yayoi eras.
    Japan is mountainous. Because of the islands' rain-blessed climate, Japan is suitable
    for rice growing. As rice crops spread in all parts of Japan, people's concerns
    embraced matters of weather.
     The sun's huge energy pouring on the ground nourishes bountiful harvests on
    mountainside and plain. The origin of life on earth is the sun. Humans sensed
    intuitively that the sun fosters all life on earth, so sun worship developed into the
    beliefs such as Shinto.

    "Two aesthetics in Shintoism"
     According to Shintoist, a type of animism, the world is dominated by a myriad of
    native gods. All things which exist; humans, animals, plants, small stones, and huge
    mountains are believed to have been created by Gods and are reminders of those
    Gods. The belief that each facet of nature corresponds to a God gives the supreme
    joy that human can coexist with Gods. A mythological outlook regarding nature as
    God brings paradise to the earthly world.
     Furthermore, the seasonal climate of Japan brings extraordinary beauty. It is
    natural for Japanese culture to consider "beauty" as the highest priority.
     While the word "miyabi" points to a world of gorgeous magnificence, the aesthetic
    variant "miyabi" describes a drawing technique "yamatoe" of the Heian era. Gold and silver were used for the background in "yamatoe" to express a feeling of happiness in a world wrapped in sunlight. Yamatoe reached its peak in the Edo era through the rise of the "Rimpa" school, represented by artists including Kourin Ogata and Soutatsu Tawaraya.
     Shinto has an additional representative feature, its view of a "Pure world".
    Shintoism shuns impurity. A pure thing (e.g. the color white) is valued. From China
    Zen and other Buddhist sects arrived in Shintoist Japan where purification had been
    symbolized by the color white.
     Shintoism's white-based "pure world" leads to the beauty of "wabi", "sabi", "horobi"(ruination), "yugen" (profound subtlety) and "mono-no-aware." At the same time, the ideas "mu" (void) and "ku" (empty), seen in Zen and Heart Sutra, demand austere minimalism. The sumi-ink landscape painting contains many unpainted areas.
     These white areas indicate the art of "mu" (void), and this technique resonates with the unique Japanese "pure world" idea. Furthermore, Zen's idea "muga"
    (selflessness) pursues nonsubjective unification between nature and human kind.
    The selfless Zen world view was expressed by the sumi-ink landscape painting
    technique which describes a stylized landscape world in black on a white
     The Ryoan Temple is famous for this stylized landscape expressionism rendering
    sea against vast white sand. This mechanism helps us image the wide spread of the
    world. Moreover, the Wabi-Sabi of Zen is a beauty created by leaving the natural
    exist while excluding individual deliberation.
     Thus, traditional Japanese beauty has essential sympathy with nature and
    acquaintance with flowers, birds, wind, moon, snow, and so on. The opposing
    aesthetics of "miyabi", ''wabi" and "sabi" make up Shintoism.
     Typical examples referred to are "A forest of the Japanese apricot tree" by Kourin
    Ogata and "A forest of the pine tree" by Touhaku Hasegawa.
     However, both aesthetic fundamentals are based on the animistic belief that the
    Gods' spirit dwe1ls in everything. Teruko Hiramatsu's work reflects this idea as one of its main themes.

  • "Japanese modern arts and world arts"
     Yamatoe reached its peak through the Rimpa school, represented by Korin Ogata
    and Soutatsu Tawaraya. Firstly, such Japanese fine arts began as architectural wall
    ornamentation during the Heian era. Eventually freer, decorative Japanese arts, such as "ukiyoe", gave influences to contemporary, occidental western artists, for example, Gustav Klimt, Van Gogh, and others.
     A new trend of the 20th Century was freely modeled art including Fauvism and
    Cubism. Artists were not trapped by the existing object but let it become an
    opportunity to create free form. In the postwar period, Japanese culture greatly
    influenced occidental abstract artists, such as Mark Tobey and Eve KIein.
     However, as abstract painting, pop art, conceptual art, etc. progressed, traditional
    views on "beauty" became irrelevant in art. Soon the traditionally beautiful thing was no longer valued, and as art became more self confident, awareness of traditional beauty faded.

    "Teruko's miracle and tragedy"
     Teruko's life was a trial.Teruko Hiramatsu's father was blessed with designing talent.
    He engaged in retail display design in Asakusa, a progressive precinct of Tokyo
    during the Taisho era of the 1910s.
     Her father's work was running well and was economically rewarding. A child was
    expected and he appointed, for Teruko, a midwife who had served the Crown Prince.
     However, in 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred when Teruko was two
    years old. Fire was a feature of the damage caused by this large earthquake. Fire
    spread through the collapsed houses three hours after the earthquake occurred, and
    Tokyo became burnt ruins.
     The toll of the earthquake was about 150,000 lives, 80 percent cause by fire. More
    than 400,000 houses were burnt. Her father, approaching an evacuation site called
    Hifukushoato to find a missing family, died at the age of 29 in a tornado of hot
    gasses. The site became a graveyard for 38,000 souls. Her mother carrying Teruko
    on her back ran into the Sumida River to escape fire. Teruko, dying of smoke
    inhalation, was fortunately revived upon reaching the river.
     It was a kind of miracle that she survived where corpses overlapped in the
    river.The Hiramatsu family lost their father and all possessions in this
    disaster.Unfortunately for Teruko, her mother's remarriage left her to be brought up
    by grandparents. They lived in Souja City in Okayama Prefecture.

    "Shintoism and Buddhism"
     Okayama Prefecture is about 500 km west from Tokyo and its history is old.
    Okayama was called Kibi from the third to the seventh century, when a lot of tombs
    were created.
     Japan's earliest Tatara steel manufacturers produced tools using iron-rich river
    sand. As iron farming tools were produced, rice growing spread. Kibi was the most
    advanced region in Japan at that time.
     Shintoism arose based on Iwakura (megalith, where gods stay) and forest. At that
    time, a megalithic culture existed in Okayama. The story that Kibitsuhiko (son of the
    Emperor Kourei) was dispatched to Okayama was written in the Kojiki and the
     It is said that Kibitsuhiko was the hero of a famous Momotaro legend. The Kibitsu
    Shinto Shrine where Kibitsuhiko was enshrined was established in the Muromachi
     An ancestor of the Hiramatsu family was a chief priest of this Shinto shrine.
    Believing images of the hometown come in succession, She visited Greece, Egypt,
    and Chinese Dunhuang, etc.
     Shintoism and the Buddhism coexist in modern Japan. People in Japan visit a
    Shinto shrine on New Year's Day to celebrate the New Year, and when a loved one
    dies, the funeral is performed the Buddhism way.
     The Shingonshu, the Hiramatsu family sect, enshrined Dainichi Nyorai, meaning
    the truth of space. Grandparents recited Prajna core sutra for a grandson's repose of
    soul. The Prajna core sutra had emerged in India, and it was an essential task for
    Dharma to introduce Buddhism to China. Dharma introduced Zen meditation to China and established the Zen sect, an Esoteric Buddhism. In the Heian era, Kukai and Saicho (who traveled in Tang Dynasty China) introduced Buddhism to Japan, part of their teachings becoming the Buddhism sect, Shingonshu.
     She liked to paint in calm mind in a Japanese style room, soft sunlight poring into
    the room through Shoji (Japanese paper screens) while listening to her grandparents reciting Prajna core sutra. Teruko's daily life was thus religiously tinged.

  • "Collections of works in her young age"
     She studied painting by self-education while growing up in the bucolic countryside.
    She issued a collection of works while she lived there. The collection included mostly
    plant sketches similar to those in botanical reference books, but also included
    sketches of insects such as butterflies and dragonflies, rodents, crustaceans and
    other subjects.
     It can be quickly observed that these are not common sketches from life. The
    human eye automatically focuses on the object it wants to see. Therefore, if all
    details are depicted uniformly, the result will be a mere monotonous pictorial record.
    However, in this collection of works,perspective, movement and presence of object
    are expressed by intentionally obscuring the areas not of interest. Her perspective
    drawing adds depth and atmosphere to the work. This atmosphere and sense of
    perspective became her special feature, which will be explained later in this text.
     She grew up in Souja City, Okayama, the birth place of the Zen monk, Sesshuu.
    Sesshuu leaves us a famous anecdote. When he was a child, he was bound to a
    pillar in the temple as punishment for mischief.
     Viewers says they see a mouse-like being in Shesshuu's picture, not knowing that,
    the motif emerged from Sesshuu's falling tears. The mouse appearing in this book
    reminds us that anecdotes dim.
    After Hiramatsu graduated from the local high school, she became a junior high
    school teacher. Keido Fukushima emerged as head priest of the Tofuku Temple in
    Kyoto (the biggest Zen sect temple in Japan). He had been one of her junior high
    school students in Okayama.
     A young Sesshu had trained as Buddhist priest at Houfuku Temple, Souja City, in
    the 15th Century. Fukushima also trained at the same temple. He later emerged as
    the head priest of the Toufuku Temple, visited various places in the United States,
    and introduced Zen to the world. Later he wrote widely, becoming a Zen authority
    while continuing a friendship with Teruko.
     When She was born,her father said that he desired her to study in France. It might be natural that She was interested in European contemporary art. As no modern art leader existed in her country she studied modern art, reading alone without a useful guiding force. She felt that she had to get herself to Paris. At that time, she knew of an active, worldly Japanese painter currently staying in Okayama.

  • "Pioneer of Japanese abstract art"
     Hiramatsu studied under Kazuo Sakata. Although he is recognized as a pioneer of
    abstract painting, he remains an obscurity in the overall art history of Japan. He was
    born in Okayama, then lived in Paris from 1921 when he was 32 yeas old, and
    exhibited his works in the Salon de Thuy Lurie annually. He was fascinated with the
    cubism of those days, so entered Leger's Research Institute where he gradually
    became recognized. While he was in Academy Modem, and Leger became ill he rose
    to become a Leger assistant and lectured to students who gathered from all over the world. Another assistant was Amedee Ozenfant.
     Sakata exhibited two works in "The Art Exhibition of Today (Art d 'Aujourd' Hue)"
    which was Paris' first worldwide avant-garde art exhibition in l925.Then he became a world-esteemed avant-garde artist.
     In this exhibition, 88 artists from 20 or more countries, mainly Europe and the
    United States, exhibited 241 works. Masters of modern art such as Arp, Brancusi,
    Delaunay, Ernst, Miro, Mohory-nagy, Mondrian, Ozenfant, Picasso, and Leger also
    participated."The Art Exhibition of Today" was an epoch-making event which
    symbolized an emergence from feudal society and the arrival of a free life along with the development of contemporary industries. The showing of works at this exhibition was considered to be a sign of belonging to a social movement and as active participation in social reform.
     Although many Japanese artists lived in Paris those days, only Sakata from the
    oriental world participated in this exhibition, so later he enjoyed world recognition as an avant-garde artist.
     Sakata's works of his younger years in Paris resemble Leger's in style due to his
    position as Leger's assistant. However, after he returned to Japan, his style gradually became his own form of abstract painting, and became a peculiar expression of Eastern world calmness.
     The representational painting expresses the object as it is seen, while the abs tract painting expresses its invisible content, heart, and consciousness.
     Cubism was a stage of transition toward the contemporary art which would sw eep
    the art world of the postwar period. Artists who espoused both cubism and abstract
    painting were few in the world. Considering such aspects, Sakata is an important
    figure in modern art history.
     The new beauty of modern times is based on life-changing instruction to those who seek individuality and originality. His appeals against "authoritarianism",
    "commercialism", and "academicism'' earned him rebuffs from the painting circles of
     Although Sakata came back to Japan only shortly before World War II, that
    Sakata's statements concerning the avant-garde were considered heretical in a
    conservative region like Okayama. It was a quite a contrast when Tsuguharu Fujita
    returned to Japan, soon to produce art in cooperation with the army.
     Eventually the former founded the first Avant-Garde-Okayama (A-G-O) of the
    postwar period in 1949, and held 4 exhibitions. In Japan, the term avant-garde is
    synonymous with "leading edge" and the acronym "A-G-O". The avant-garde art
    which Sakata strove toward, would be a new and unique one that did not imitate the existing arts. Its instruction would be the opposite of conventional imitative instruction.
    He never invited a visitor into his studio.
     Furthermore he prohibited his students from displaying fine-art magazines which
    might feature other artists' work in his studio. He also demanded his students "throw
    away the picture they did yesterday and do a new picture today."
    Hiramatsu got to know Sakata when he returned to Okayama, she decided to study
    with him, and converted her style to abstract painting. She participated in all A-G-O
     More than 150 letters between Hiramatsu and Sakata from that short period exist
    as important records. He praised in his letter her work exhibited in the A-G-O
    exhibition as being the most excellent and distinguished.
    He wrote in a letter two years before he passed away, "My life may soon end, so
    please take my baton and try hard." It was his will that she succeed his avant-garde
    spirit. Sakata's inevitable end came in l956 at the age of 67. Since he opposed the
    authority of the central art circles, he was overlooked by the contemporary art
    historians of Japan as being another local artist.
     A letter from Tadao Ogura (a director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto) to Hiramatsu in the postwar period described her as his true student succeeding his spirit unlike any other student of Sakata" (after evaluating Sakata's development from cubism to orientalist expressionism). Then he concluded that the main stream of Japanese art was victim to colonialism. "The western world absorbs Japanese and other oriental styles, obtains inspiration and creates original work. On the other hand,Japanese artists are slaves to western trends. They lack the consciousness and effort to draw from their most familiar Japanese traditions or to modify them."
     Mr. Ogura supported Hiramatsu's innovation toward Japanese traditional cultures
    and their modernization. she reemerged in Tokyo and worked as a fine arts teacher
    after the war. She held an exhibition of her works there.
     She was discovered by Shuzo Takiguchi, poet and prewar avant-garde educational
    campaigner. So she got an opportunity to open her own private exhibition at the
    Takemiya Gallery, which promoted the latest fine arts. Shuzo Takiguchi introduced
    modern and abstract painting to Japan. He was a superior art critic, active before the war. However, he was arrested only for introducing progressive art during WWII.
     After Sakata died, Hiramatsu and two former members formed the group "Different" in Tokyo to succeed A・G・O and held exhibitions. However, its activities were frustrated by members' deaths. Although the works at the time of A-G-O were mainly oil paintings, pioneering mixed media collages of sumi, cement, aluminum, and Japanese paper were displayed in the gallery. In Japan paintings are separately classified into oils and Japanese paintings. They are also classified as separate curriculums in Japanese art universities. However, because Hiramatsu did not learn in the university's fine arts department, her works were not affected by such classification, so many of her works are unfettered by such classification.

    "Private exhibitions in New York"
     Hiramatsu made up her mind to become a world famous painter as suggested by
    Mr. Sakata. New York became the new center of fine arts instead of Paris. She visited America in December, 1964 and after working as a teacher, stayed in Chelsea, New York getting to know Japanese painter, Mike Kanemitsu, and becoming his friend.Mike used the same studio as De Kooning (a giant among U.S. abstract painters).Hiramatsu also shared the studio.
     An acrylic paint called Liquitex hit the United States market at that time. It had
    superior coloring than the traditional paints available in Japan and had a transparency.Its accidental effects produced by water dilution include intricate color mixtures and an infinite gradation of hues.Hiramatsu used Japanese paper in collage, since Japanese paper dyes beautifully.
     Unlike oil paint that thickly coats the whole canvas, the technique of water color on Japanese paper produces the unexpected. The same relationship exists between Japanese paper and sumi. The unexpected lurks in blots and blurs made with ink.
    Beauty dwells in such areas.
     Exhibition at AM SACHS GALLERY, Madison Street in January, l966. The colorful
    collages in acrylics, Japanese paper, and sumi were novel works in mixed media.
    Such exquisite expressive fields produced by dyeing, acrylics and Japanese paper,
    had beauty of color never before seen.
     The critic John Canady of the New York Times wrote up this exhibition as follows,
    bringing it to the center of attention.
    " High-style collages in brilliantly stained papers, crumpled and pasted onto painted
    backgrounds. They could hardly be more ornamental, if they are nothing more than something good to look at, neither are they anything less."
     The critics also esteemed the traditional and oriental sensitivity in the Herald
    Tribune, Art News and PARK EAST.
    Though the compositions of those abstract works is bold, they suggest the
    "yamatoe" created by Soutatsu Tawaraya, Hokusai and Hiroshige. Japanese
    "miyabi" was shown to the United States, and traditional "yamatoe" was reformed by new materials and techniques.
  • Work 1 "Rain of 10.000 stones"
     Materials: canvas, oil, acrylic, sumi, Japanese paper.
     Mixed media work.
     Hiramatsu succeeded in her exhibition at Gallery 66, Los Angeles in May. Then
    she returned to Japan to create "The elegant Japan" using gold and silver leaf. The
    bold composition and color of this work bring to mind the work of Korin Ogata and
    other Rimpa artists.
     This series appeared at the Ichibankan Hall Gallery, Tokyo, 1967. Their motifs
    were various including nature themes, for example twilight-lit snow-covered
    landscape of the Japan Alps, etc.
  • Work 2 "The elegant Japan"
     Materials: canvas, sumi, gold and silver leaf, acrylics and Japanese paper.
     Abstract rendering of Japan's nature with bold composition. The composition
    spread over four panels resembles a Rimpa folding screen.
  • Work 3 "Hodaka Mountain Range"
     Materials: canvas, sumi, acrylics and Japanese paper.
     One of a series on mountains. Hiramatsu praises nature.
  •  She exhibited at the American Culture Center in 1970, based on her earlier
    success in the United States. Many visitors arrived at the exhibition including United
    States Ambassador Johnson, the above-mentioned De Kooning, director of the
    National Museum of Modern Art Yukio Kobayashi, director of the National Museum
    of Modern Art, Kyoto Tadao Ogura, Takeo Yamaguchi, Masayuki Nagare, Tamon
    Miki, Shuzo Takiguchi and other celebrities seen in the photograph.
     Contemporaneously, pollution problems and other environmental problems began to attract attention in Japan. Hiramatsu also exhibited an equidimensional series of 200 paintings on the theme of global environmental destruction at Piner Art Gallery,Tokyo, 1971. A view of the natural environment as an important element was itself primary to the culture of Japan.

  • "Private Exhibitions in Germany"
     Hiramatsu lived in the small suburbs Krefeld, Dusseldorf, Germany for about ten
    years from 1972. She held many private exhibitions based on her works in this city.
    Krefeld is the town where Joseph Beuys, a leader of conceptual art, was born. She
    actually met Beuys there.
     The problem of abstract painting was what she should depict. She thought
    American painting seemed to reach the limit. Beuys advocated conceptualism to
    investigate the questions of what the artist draws and why. She received great
    influence from him. World art was trending from abstract expressionism to conceptual art. She tackled first the Zen world, the opposite to her themes during her U.S. sojourn.
     Hiramatsu opened the exhibition in 1975 at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum. Poul
    Wemwer, the director of the museum, was world-famous for the contemporary art
    historian who scouted the nameless Yves Klein and published his introduction and
    works. Gisela Fiedler, the assistant director of the museum, praised her in the
    exhibition's brochure that "She begins creating from the calm contemplation and
    spiritual concentration, meditation and deep consideration for the true nature of an
    object, not from the excited emotion or physical impulse such as abstract
    impressionism or active painting. The western artists learned the eastern philosophy,however, western people cannot become eastern people."
     Hiramatsu created a white series which explored minimalistic whiteness and space
    and created ink characters on white cloth. They echo the former yamatoe's union of
    space with characters.
     Although Hiramatsu dealt with the Chinese and Japanese syllabary, those works
    cannot be described as "calligraphy." The Chinese character emerged in China to
    express an image of the form. She returned to the characters' origin and recreated her own new forms.
     Then a character was no longer an established character style, but was pictorially
    arranged on a canvas.In this way, a new writing freed itself from established meaning and became an original orientalistic abstract arrangement.
     The characters' meanings vanished, the established concept of calligraphy was
    broken into its elements and reformed by her.
     This was art which expressed its own rhythm, free from adherence to form. It
    simultaneously showcased the world of "wabi", "sabi" and "zen" hence the genealogy of Japanese tradition.
     This event was taken up by the newspaper, Rheinische Post, and other newspapers
    and they wrote that "Her works are created from the spiritual and regional tradition.
    She is the envoy for the relief from the material overemphasized imminent world in
    the current times." Soon, the Japanese traditional arts became an attraction of public appreciation. 
     Then traditional arts of Japan came to attract more attention. Furthermore, the
    Consul General of Bon supported Hiramatsu's holding of exhibitions in various
    regions in Germany.
  • Work 4 "Zen"
     Materials: cloth, sumi.
     Magazine page photograph appeared in ART INTERNATIONAL, 1977
  • Work 5 "Prayer"
     Materials: cloth, sumi.
     New characters were introduced in a picture formed by abstract conceptualism.
  • Work 6 "Toutou"
     Materials: cloth, sumi.
     Flowing river water is depicted. The title is self evident.
     Hiramatsu produced these ink works on cloth. Blots and blurs were freely let form in contrast to her controlled Japanese paper works.

  • "Original-form Black World"
     She returned to Japan in the 1980s to begin to tackle the combination of Japanesepaper and sumi.
     Hiramatsu, being interested also in oriental philosophy, became intimate with
    Koushiro Tamaki, philosopher, Professor Emeritus at The University of Tokyo, and
    deepened her knowledge. Tamaki, an authority on oriental philosophy, wrote
    copiously on the subject. He visited our museum and wrote the preface to her
     Meditation emerged in ancient India giving rise to Zen. The meanings of the words
    "Shikisokuzeku" and "Kusokuzeshiki" (the most famous parts of the Prajna Core
    Sutra, originating from Indian Buddhism) are not a declaration of simple nihilism nor
    resignation to the notion that "No object has substance".
     What is the “object”? When a object exists in front of a viewer, its reflected light
    enters the eyeball and is synthesized into a recognition of matter by the neurological system and its recognition as an object is merely a pattern of electric signals.
     Considering the object scientifically, its minimum unit can be visualized as the
    nucleus and surrounding electrons. The atomic nucleus has plus polarity and the
    electrons minus. On another level, all matter is known to exist as waves and
    electrical charges. Considering the object from quantum mechanics, no object has
    the tangible body that we visualize.Hiramatsu thought that god resides in natural
    things. She desired to express the spirit of the natural thing. In addition, she drew
    essential natural matter such as water, fire, stone, etc., her intention being similar to that of the ancient peoples who drew them.
     Art creation and nature worship are almost the same thing for her. Praising God
    as Creator leads to an attempt to express life in material shapes such as drawings.
  • Works 7, 8, 9
     "Original-form series"
     Materials: Japanese paper, sumi.
     Minimalist works.
     Beauty in which form is emphasized by the sumi technique of black on a white
     A further series of black works 7 to 9 focus on the sumi's black on a white ground.
    Instead of "miyabi" and the white world being dynamic worlds in the black series, the viewer perceives a world of calm. There is infinite gradation in the black of sumi.
     Furthermore, "Snow covered mountain", "a stone and water", "drift ice", "clouds
    and the moon", "heavenly body", etc. pursue sumi's special features.
     These works effectively employ the blotting peculiar to Japanese paper, original
    techniques were fully employed to replace Hiramatsu's earlier deliberate brushwork
    styles. As a result, work whose like has never seen before was created; sumi works
    are not merely black surfaces, but have tones of delicate gradation, which cannot be
    applied intentionally,as whites and grays can.
     Those works exceed her intention, seeming to be naturally created through reve
    ion from God via interactions of Indian ink, water, and paper. They inspire the viewer to visualize the selflessness of Zen.
     Her exhibition was held at the Ueda Ware House Gallery, Tokyo, l983. The theme
    was the Shintoism of Japan with a further degree of abstraction. Groups of big works
    of up to 240 centimeters square were worthily displayed in the huge warehouse
     After this exhibition, Hiramatsu got interested in the birthplaces of ancient
    civilizations and visited many countries of the world. In l987, she traveled to China to visit the ruins of a cave Buddha statue. Museum in 1995. She created works in sumi and exhibited a cave-Buddha-inspired series in Osaka.
     Then she held an exhibition at the huge P3 Art Museum in Tokyo in l990, themed
    on the ruins of Egypt. Huge works as large as the 10 m by 3 m "Valley of the Kings"
    were displayed.
     Furthermore, Hiramatsu held an exhibition focusing the ancient civilizations of areas such as Greece and Egypt at the Heidelberger Kunstverein.
     The hanging-scroll-formatted 2.7 m length Greece group works were hung from the high ceiling and were aligned lengthways in the hall. To experience walking through the exhibition was to experience walking through the ruins of Greece.
     Hiramatsu traveled the ruins of the world where monuments used to exist and now desolate scenery replaces once green productive land. Once prosperous civilization obviously fell ruin. Urban culture forgets and destroys nature. Where is a model culture which can continue into the future? Hiramatsu thought that the model must exist in past Japanese culture.
     Assuming that human-centeredness centrism in contemporary Western Europe is
    at a dead end and assuming that some seek to share a renewed existence with the
    natural world, art must be broadly considered in terms of nature and in terms of
    human existence in the universe, both concepts beyond human understanding, and
    liberated from the confines of human consciousness. For Hiramatsu, conceptual art issuch an outlook on the universe and the spiritual.

  • Sunlight,Gold,Moonlight,and a Silver Shining World
     Hiramatsu established "U- Forum Museum " in 1978. "U" stands for "universe."
     She began to create works against gold and silver backgrounds in those days.
    A wave motion series was exhibited in Gallery Brocken, Japan, l994. Water's wave
    motion is rendered in sumi on a silver background and flame's wave motion is
    rendered in sumi on a gold background. For example, the work titled "Wave motion of water" expresses the water reflected light of water flowing on the surface of a rocky mountain. It expresses the natural symbolism of Japan's abundant water.
     Hiramatsu's overriding theme is light. Silver expresses light with especial
    naturalism. Silver captures the scene in front of a picture, like a mirror, and the
    pictorial scene will change with the positions of the viewers. Moreover, if it exhibited in a dark place, it will become black, and white, if exhibited in a bright place. A silver picture shines and changes variously in this way. Because silver is a difficult color to employ, silver pictures hardly exist in this world.
     Gold is the light of the sun which illuminates the familiar world, but the silver light of the universe illuminates the moon and the galaxies alike.
     Furthermore, galaxies are not the stereotypical views of many stars strewn across
    an empty sky. Indian philosophy says that this universe began when the wind of a fan blew into empty space. This wind is blowing in her galaxy-themed works because their underpinning is the beginning of the universe.
     As a small patch of white sand serves to express nature in Kyoto's Ryoan Temple,
    the Galaxy series expresses the figure of the dynamic universe on a small panel.

  • The Japanese beauty in the world
     In her flower images, the artist wanted to express its beauty and to secure its
    ephemeral image into the future. While Western artists tend to draw a thing as itself,Japanese artists consider the importance of its "place". It belongs to space, and the object fills this place rather than exist as itself.
     In Japanese fine arts, unfilled space is considered important because unfilled space expresses "place". To Hiramatsu the square canvas presented a drawing place for nature and the universe.
     Hiramatsu's work moved from rich color in her U.S. period, to white in her German
    period, black in her Japan period, and finally silver and gold in her old age.
    She sought the most beautiful hues in the world, the most beautiful white in the
    world, and the most beautiful black in the world respectively.Japanese "wabi", "sabi"
    and "miyabi" became united in her final series of gold and silver.
     Traditional arts trend toward stereotyping, and stall in their advancement.
    Stereotyped form is one area of illustration, while Wabi-Sabi based randomized
    design is an opposite concept. It can be said that modern art has stagnated through
    loss of the goal of artistic creation.
     An aim of art is beauty. Each artist has to develop his/her ownpeculiar beauty.
    Kazuo Sakata's guiding precept was that art should advance ceaselessly. Hiramatsu
    does not claim that because she uses traditional Japanese sumi and traditional
    Japanese paper her art is traditionally Japanese, nor does she insist that because it
    has novelty her art is avant-garde. Only because she could not find expression in
    existing techniques, did she create novel new technique
     The Japanese traditional arts were given abstraction, equipped with beauty and
    dynamism, and recreated anew by Hiramatsu. Whenever Hiramatsu traveled the
    world, she discovered the "Japan" inside her.
     Many intellectuals desired the arrival of a contemporary art which could revive
    Japan's aesthetic sense. Hiramatsu realized that wish.

  •        Refer to book “Nihonbi no keifu” Masayoshi Nishida ,Sougensha,1979
  •              Text by Asahiko Hiramatsu Director of U-Forum Museum

  •   炎
  • 長岡国人2003