Tetsu Yamada, AECA: Member of Spanish Art Critics Association, AICA: Member of International Art Critics Association
Hiromitsu Kato, The Japanese Spirit, Between East and West
Under the cherry tree lies a corpse.
This novel, which begins with a shocking beginning, is the first part of “Under the Sakura Tree” by Kajii Kanjiro (1901~1932). The protagonist is captivated by the beauty of cherry blossoms. He felt the existence of “ugliness” on the other side of beauty. The main character was anxious about the beauty of so many cherry trees.
The main character was so worried about the beauty of cherry blossoms that he imagined that “the roots of cherry trees suck up the liquid that drips like crystal from the corpses of animals and humans, like a greedy octopus.
It would not be surprising if this was the imagination of Kajii Motojiro himself, who died prematurely of tuberculosis at the age of 31. Since ancient times, the beauty of cherry blossoms, and their fleeting appearance as they fall apart, has been a source of inspiration for the Japanese, sometimes violent, sometimes decadent. Now there is another artist who draws inspiration from cherry blossoms. Hiromitsu Kato.
While he was unsure of his future path, he happened to visit a Japanese painting exhibition and was so impressed by the works that he decided to pursue this career. After entering art school, he also studied Western painting, but his natural talent was probably more suited to Japanese painting. The materials used for Japanese painting are not suited to the profound works of Antonio Lopez, a leading figure in Spanish realism. He tried to learn from the classical works of Japanese painters, but he paid attention to Jakuchu Ito (1706-1800), a “fantastic painter” who combined realism and imagination, which was still unknown at the time when he was a student. The boldness that Kato learned from Jakuchu, while perhaps unconsciously incorporating the essence of the Western paintings he studied at art school, appears in his works as his own unique taste. He says, “If I only follow the tradition of Japanese painting, which requires a certain stylization, I will not be able to express myself at all.
I would not be able to express myself at all.
He chose cherry blossoms as the motif for this exhibition. Cherry blossoms are a landscape of his hometown Miyagi, a landscape deeply rooted in Japanese aesthetics because of its beauty and fragility. It is the root of Kato and the root of the Japanese people.
He did not treat the whole of a single tree, but boldly treated only the cherry blossoms. In Japan, there is a polytheistic culture called Shinkyo, and one can find mystery in even a single petal. According to Kato, this is why this way of depicting them is also possible. The setting is generally night. The background is black. Kato’s black is beautiful. It is not the black of darkness. Gold and silver are placed in the black according to his intuition, and this creates a wonderful effect that enhances each and every petal of the cherry blossoms. The position of the light and the sunlight also change the appearance of the moon in the background. Such black magic provides the perfect stage for cherry blossoms, destined to fade away, to burn with life in the midst of beauty.
At first glance, the work may appear to be an ordinary Japanese painting, but Kato’s ingenuity in subtlety creates the Kato style.
Beauty and death. It is precisely because we intuitively see “death” in beauty that we Japanese are attracted to the beauty of the “life” of cherry blossoms. The same thing can be said of the autumn leaves and wisteria flowers. The best moment in life is shown by something that is dying. I asked him what he wanted to do in Spain.
I would like to present my own world. I want to take the time to see if people can understand me.
I don’t intend to flatter Western culture even if I come from the East to the West. How the viewer feels is up to them. I am also looking forward to seeing how Westerners will interpret the work, whether they will see death in Sakura as the Japanese do, or what they will see in the beauty of nature.