The Asahi Shimbun reports today that Nihonga painter Koizumi Junsaku, age 86, who I’ve discussed twice before, has produced a number of sliding screen (fusuma) paintings for the Tôdaiji in Nara. Nara is currently celebrating the 1300th anniversary of its becoming the capital of Japan (though, it only remained capital for about 60 years). To the left, you can see one of these fusuma (actually, it looks like a folding screen, but the article says fusuma) in front of the Great Buddha (daibutsu) of Tôdaiji, the largest bronze Buddha in the country.
Though I must admit Koizumi isn’t exactly my favorite artist or anything, it is quite interesting to see how patronage works these days, and how artists in a rather modern form (Nihonga was first developed around 1900) are commissioned by some of the oldest temples to produce works for them.
Photo copyright Asahi Shimbun.
As usual, as the Asahi is sure to not leave this article up for more than a week or so, leaving you with nothing but a broken link, I’ll provide a translation of the full (very brief) article. Original text is copyright Asahi Shinbun, and no attempts are made to claim that text as my own intellectual property – only to make it available to the world once asahi.com takes it down.
Forty sliding screen paintings by Kamakura-based Nihonga painter Koizumi Junsaku (85) were donated on April 20 to the Tôdaiji (Ueno dôzen bettô) in Nara. The works took him five years to complete, aiming towards completion in time for this year, the 1300th anniversary of the transfer of the capital to Heijô (Nara). The dedication ceremony was held in the Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden), and a memorial service was held with one of the works set up in front of the Great Budda.
The fusuma range from 81-197 cm tall, and roughly 3.84 to 20 meters wide. They depict themes such as weeping cherry (shidarezakura, a type of sakura tree), lotus pond, and heavenly musicians, and will decorate the Great Audience Hall (ôhiroma) and jôdan-no-ma for special occasions.
In addition to his “Twin Dragons” ceiling painting produced for Kennin-ji, he painted a portrait of the late Kiyomizu Kôshô (sp?), images of Emperor Shômu and Empress Kômei (r. 8th century), and a number of other works; his connections with Tôdaiji are quite deep.
The screen paintings will travel the country on exhibition, beginning this September at the Takashimaya Department Store at Nihonbashi in Tokyo.