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Blog|Art U Staff Blog “asobe”

足の筆で描く東洋のスピリット・白髪一雄 Kazuo Shiraga—the spirit of the East, painting with his feet as a brush


久し振りに尼崎文化センターの白髪一雄記念室に行った。今の展示は〜密教との出会い〜、「大威徳尊」 1973がメインに展示されていた。私は入るなり撃れてしまった!本当に腰が抜ける思いがした。まるで足萎えのようにただ立ち尽くしていた。生前お出会いした穏やかな白髪さんについつい惑わされて身近な存在に思っていたが、それはとんでもないことであったのだ。白髪師の本体は遥か天上界に在ったのだ。

I recently went to see the Kazuo Shiraga room at the Amagasaki Cultural Center, my first visit in quite a while. The current display, entitled Mikkyo to no Deai (encounter with esoteric Buddhism), featured Daiitokuson (1973) as the main exhibit. As soon as I saw it, I was stunned. I just stood there, unable to move. The calm and peaceful Kazuo Shiraga that I had met had lulled me into a sense of familiarity, thinking that I knew him, but this painting unceremoniously shocked me into realizing my error, demonstrating that Shiraga’s essence was actually on a completely different level, out of this world.


Shiraga was very familiar with calligraphy and bokusai-ga (sumi ink paintings that incorporate color), and used his toes to produce what seemed like exquisite brushwork. This work vividly communicates the delicate touch of his big and little toes. The momentum of the rope and the momentary traces left by his toes combine perfectly. The delicacy is astounding. I’m ashamed to admit that until now my perspective had been too crude to notice. Surely no-one else has ever incorporated every fiber of his toes into his art to such an extent. Shiraga is indisputably a true pioneer of painting with the feet.

作品から放出される猛烈なエネルギーのエスプリ、それは西洋的なものとは違う。私たちの DNAの奥底に潜む大陸的な東洋のエスプリを触発する。 そして長澤蘆雪、曾我蕭白、富岡鉄斎の作品を目にした時と同種の感性を発掘させられる。学芸員さんから白髪師は富岡鉄斎に憧憬していたと聞く、合点!

The esprit behind the ferocious energy emitted by this work is not the same as western esprit. It triggers the eastern, continental-Asian esprit that is deeply embedded in Japanese DNA. You can discover a similar aesthetic sensibility when you encounter a work by Nagasawa Rosetsu, Soga Shohaku, or Tomioka Tessai. When the curator told me that Shiraga was a fan of Tomioka Tessai, I wanted to shout, “Yes!”



茶碗の中の宇宙 樂家一子相伝の芸術






 アケマシテ オメデトウ ゴザイマス ! Happy New Year 2017!




誠心誠意 OMOTENASHI しますのでよろしくお願いします。


I'm robot Taro of a new employee-it's done! It was Art and a staff of yuu from this year. I'm slight, but work is BATCHIRI!

Sincerity  OMOTENASHI , So, thank you. I'm waiting for your coming.



この好奇心こそ人間の本質であり asobiではないでしょうか?

さて前書きが長くなりましたが、その狙いは私の 密やかな asobiを正当化するための方便でもあるのです。

感動された時、もうその人のPersonal possessionになるのですから。
それは見者の内にある感性が呼び覚まされる、そして共鳴することではないでしょうか。見者の未窟の鉱脈を探り当てる歓喜と奏でる協奏曲こそ至宝の asobi ではないでしょうか?



References to play abound in Japanese culture passed down over the centuries. Good examples include one of the Ryojin-hisho* songs, “We are all born to play, born to have fun. When I hear the voices of children playing, my old body still responds, wanting to join in,” and the Zen word, Yushin/Asobi-gokoro (A playful mind/Playfulness). Such references indicate that play (asobi) is one of the foundations of art and the popular arts. Similar ideas can be seen in the West, such as Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens (or Playing Man), which discussed the importance of play as an essential element in human activity and the origin of culture.

The experience of nursing and rearing my three children is vividly imprinted on my mind. Babies who had plenty of breast milk and sufficient sleep were absolutely brimming with curiosity. They played constantly, with their senses of touch, sight, and hearing in high gear, playing with their hands and feet, and putting anything they touched in their mouths. Once they started crawling, their curiosity went up another gear, seeming to drive the development of their physical abilities and motor skills. This curiosity is surely the essence of humanity, the manifestation of Asobi-gokoro or playful mind.

Please forgive the lengthy introduction, which largely serves to justify my own furtive play. I hope my playing will not overtax the artists’ generosity and compassion. You know, the artwork that I am now looking at has come forth from your womb. I don’t know if it was an easy delivery or an excruciatingly painful, difficult delivery, but now that it is done, the work that you gave birth to exists as a separate entity with its own independent character and its own life.

That entity sparks the fire of life in the hearts of viewers, triggering the ongoing emission of life energy that will transcend time and space. What happens is already outside the control of the artist who gave birth to it. When your art moves someone emotionally, that experience becomes his or her personal possession.

What does it mean to move someone? Surely it means stirring the viewer’s emotions and resonating inside him or her.Performing a ‘concerto’ that resounds with the joy of discovering an untouched vein of something precious inside the viewer is surely the most treasured form of play.

*Ryojin-hisho (Songs to Make the Dust Dance on the Beams): a folk song collection compiled by Cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa in the end of Heian period. (12th century)