Japanese artist Masaaki Miyasako’s first solo show in Italy on display at Palazzo Pitti in Florence

IMG-20140519-WA0002The sumptuous rooms of Palazzo Pitti’s Andito degli Angiolini are hosting Tourbillon, the first solo show in Italy of the Japanese artist Masaaki Miyasako. The exhibition will be on display at the Renaissance residence of the Medici family until June 20th.

Tourbillon, bringing together some 30 artworks, both recent and from his early career, showcases mainly large format paintings looking back at the traditional forms of the Japanese art and crafts such as prints, paintings on silk, ceramics, lacquers and standing screen paintings.

His work resembling multi-layered painted paper is actually the result of a century-old and extremely sophisticated painting technique: as the artist told me as I interviewed him after the launch “The creations originate from ink sketches on which the colour is applied at a later stage through a meticulous and complex technique. This procedure requires numerous steps and takes from a few days up to two weeks to complete. The inspiration for the subject-matters of the paintings is the most time-consuming activity though, as it takes up to a couple of years for a core idea to become an actual concept”.


Masaaki Miyasako also added: “I’m delighted to be showing my artwork in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna at Palazzo Pitti as these beautiful rooms provide an amazing display space for my work. I personally selected the 33 paintings according to the nature of the Florentine space, out of the 46 that were displayed in the previous shows in Budapest and Lisbon. I have been working on the conception of a great number of new themes and subjects, drawing inspiration from Japanese landscapes and traditional atmospheres as well as from everyday scenes from around the world”.

Miyasako’s delicate and painstaking paintings blend the refined mastery of the Urazaishiki, the ancient techniques of colouring from the reverse, with a surprising contemporary twist.

In a recent talk to the Dream Project Series Interview – Voices from Artist to the Worldon his up-and-coming projects, the slogan “Introducing Nihonga to the Worldwas conceived to present Miyasako’s work internationally.

Miyasako explains how “In Japan painting is divided into abura-e (oil painting) and nihon-ga (Japanese-style painting) as if the country wanted to isolate its art scene from the global contemporary art scenario.  Such categorization is particular to Japan, and it can’t possibly work internationally, where art is generally categorized into fine art or contemporary art.”

He adds that “Whether or not an artist has an original technique and an idea, and whether or not an artwork contains a message and a philosophy – these are the core issues for the definition of “contemporary art”. Some nihonga paintings have both; others are just a realistic copy of things. In my case I use a technique called “urazaishiki” of my own, which I believe works internationally as something original. “


“International art museums appreciate artwork on individual piece-basis, which is greatly different from the condition in Japan where appreciation has been done on genre-basis.”

Another key theme in Miyasako‘s work is the recurrent spiral form:  in his own words ” the origin of eternal life stems from the spiral. But, I don’t intend to draw the form itself — the form is something that naturally appears while painting a picture. In a sense, spiral represents existence of life and the universe, which makes me believe that I always have a universe within myself. I’m interested in the fact that a life called spiral can be found in every work of the great painters in Japanese art history.”





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Masaaki Miyasako – Tourbillon

Until June 20th

Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Palazzo Pitti, Piazza de’ Pitti Florence

Tel. 055 2388601