Nihonga is often translated into English as "Japanese style painting." It refers to paintings executed with ink and/or mineral pigments on paper or silk. Its major formats include hanging scrolls, handscrolls, folded screens, albums, and framed works.
Artists and art critics in Japan began to use this term in the second half of the nineteenth century to distinguish native modes of painting from oil painting and watercolor (seiyōga). The official exhibitions in Tokyo accepted submissions to the two respective divisions, nihonga and seiyōga. Other institutions, including art associations and art schools, also upheld the division between nihonga and seiyōga. However, the two modes of painting share many stylistic and thematic similarities; the boundaries between them were often fluid and contested. Many artists engaged in both.
In principle, the distinction between nihonga and seiyōga was based on the medium and the presumed set of traditions and masters each mode was indebted to, not on painter's nationality or the painting's subject matter. Both categories reflect a Japan-centric view of global art in the time of empire. Nihonga often artists took up styles of the Kano School, Rinpa School, Maruyama Shijō School, Yamato-e, and Ukiyo-e in their works. Generally, nihonga was viewed as distinct from literati painting. However, some modern nihonga artists did incorporate literati painting into their artistic practice; also, paintings in the literati tradition were displayed in the nihonga division at the salon.
Konoshima Ōkoku's "Drizzling Shower of Rain" is an example of nihonga. This work was on display at the first Ministry of Education Fine Arts Exhibition in 1907. It is a pair of six-fold screens depicting deer wading through wet grasses. Associations of the subject matter with autumn match the salon season of October. Konoshima Ōkoku's masterful brushwork received much acclaim. The work won a prize and the Ministry of Education purchased it for a prospective art museum. In 1922, the Ministry loaned it for display at a major exhibition of Japanese historic and contemporary art held at the Grand Palais in Paris. In 1923, Ōkoku's screens traveled to Seoul as one of the model works for the second Korea Fine Arts Exhibition.
In certain contexts, artists and critics used the term nihonga as a synonym of tōyōga, or "East Asian Painting." The equivalent of nihonga in Taiwan and Korea and a counterpart to seiyōga came to be known as tōyōga. By the 1930s, some artists from Korea and Taiwan, like Guo Xuehu, came to work in the medium of nihonga.
See discussion of Guo Xuehu's art to better understand the relationship of nihonga and tōyōga.
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Tōyōga Painter, Nihonga Artist
Ōsawa Sadayoshi; Araki Jippo; Yen Chuanying; Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere; Daitōa kyōeiken; Solitude; Silence
Taiwan Government-General Library
Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto
Kabayama Elementary School, location of the first Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition
Guo Xuehu displayed his paintings in the tōyōga division of the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition. Nihonga painter and juror, Araki Jippo, made following comments on works in the tōyōga division at the salon in 1935:
I have heard that at the first and second Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition there were some extremely crude literati landscapes and flower paintings. Today, works on display have progressed and aren't any different from contemporary nihonga. It is truly a remarkable development (Araki 1935, 58).
Already in 1927, Japanese art critic, Ōsawa Sadayoshi (1886-?), suggested that the division itself was improperly named and should be called nihonga instead (Yen 2007, 86). Also, when Taiwanese tōyōga artists submitted their paintings to the salons in Tokyo in the 1930s and early 1940s, their works were on display in the nihonga division.
To address this conflation of nihonga and tōyōga, art historian Yen Chuanying has proposed an expanded definition of nihonga for the colonial period. She has described nihonga as painting with Eastern qualities under Japan's leadership (Yen 2009, 296; see also Lin 2008, 145). Similarly, Jason Kuo has argued that the naming of tōyōga division reflected Japan's ambitions to best represent East Asian art (Kuo 2000, 36).
Yen's political take on nihonga takes into account nihonga's popularity in Taiwan as well as its material affinity to painting in other East Asian countries vis-a-vis oil painting. It points to the cultural imperialism inherent in the official exhibitions' and Japanese artists' promotion of nihonga in the colonies. I argue that in the process Japanese artists lost their monopoly on nihonga. By the 1930s, nihonga became a creative medium for some Taiwanese Chinese artists. The naming of the tōyōga division helped to obscure this fact.
The shift in the meaning of nihonga became even more apparent in the early 1940s, when art critics in Japan began to discuss the implementation of the ideals of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (Daitōa kyōeiken) in art. Some art critics found it difficult to praise paintings at the metropolitan salon simply for depicting ideologically relevant and politically correct subject matter. So, they were relieved to notice paintings by young Korean and Taiwanese artists in the nihonga division. Art critics envisioned these colonial artists as the vanguard, leading the metropolitan salon to becoming a center for all cutting-edge artists from each region of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in the near future (Kolodziej 2018, 217-218; Ōyama and Kimura 1942, 37). Such comments suggest that, under the wartime regime and imperialization policies, art critics began to imagine the boundaries between Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese art in new ways.
One of Guo Xuehu's most striking works is “Solitude” (also translated as “Silence,” jakukyō in Japanese) from the 1933 Taiwan salon. This work is said to have been inspired by Guo's visit to the Nanzen Temple in Kyoto, during his first trip to Japan in autumn of 1931 (Taipei Fine Arts Museum 1989, 25). This painting includes typical elements of a literati landscape, with mountains, a waterfall, and trees. Yet, the unusual composition and execution in all encompassing dark color make it appear so fresh and modern, foreshadowing developments of postwar nihonga.
Guo Xuehu did not study art in Japan for any extended period, nor did he exhibit his works there in the prewar period, unlike some of his more wealthy peers. The Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition, the Taiwan Government-General Library, and the community of Japanese-settler artists in Taipei brought him into the purview of Japan's imperial art world. His paintings shared the stylistic and thematic concerns with nihonga artists, pushing the boundaries of the medium, and redefining its very premises. By rendering the distinction between nihonga and tōyōga superfluous, his work complicates our understanding of nihonga as simply “Japanese-style painting” or neo-traditional painting.
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sankōhin; sketching; looking at art; local color; Japanized art; Araki Jippo; Umehara Ryūzaburō; Tateishi Tetsuomi
Shiseigunyakusho, display of model works
Tokyo School of Fine Arts
Japan Art Association
Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition
Sketching from nature and studying acclaimed works of the past and present constituted the two key methods of acquiring painting skills for both nihonga and seiyōga painters in early twentieth-century Japan (Fujishima 2004, 221-222). Exhibition jurors, established artists, and authors of advice books emphasized that aspiring artists should study masterpieces through copying. At the same time, they suggested that each artist should aim to develop their own original expression.
Copying has had an important place within the artistic training both in European academy and in Japan. During the Tokugawa period, artists of the Kano school used to copy so-called funpon (model paintings). Funpon were wide-ranging collections of images that reproduced original paintings faithfully or in rough sketches in smaller size. They were zealously guarded and enabled transmission of artistic styles and subject matter within the workshop (Lippit 2012, 238-239; Jordan and Weston 2003).
By the early twentieth century, looking at original paintings and experiencing their size, color, and texture required access to private collections or visiting art exhibitions. The Tokyo School of Fine Arts and the Japan Art Association (Nihon bijutsu kyōkai) frequently included “model works” (sankōhin, literally “objects for reference”) in their exhibitions for study purposes. Furthermore, with the launch of the Ministry of Education Fine Arts Exhibition in 1907 in Tokyo, artists in Japan began voicing even stronger demands for establishment of a modern art museum. By canonizing recent art, this museum would also function as a source of model works.
Similarly, Japanese settler-artists in Taiwan and colonial bureaucrats believed that representative examples of modern Japanese art could guide local artists and educate the art public. Therefore, the first Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition was accompanied by a special exhibition of over twenty nihonga and oil paintings on loan from Tokyo as model works (the Korea Fine Arts Exhibition also featured Japanese modern art as models).
Painter, art teacher, and long-term resident of Taiwan, Ishikawa Kin’ichirō (1871-1945), described his emotional experience of viewing these works at the first official salon in Taiwan:
The model works displayed are an oasis of art for art connoisseurs and the study of [art]. Having come in contact with these fine works, I feel that art by great masters draws you in without effort, just like that, quietly, like the gentle flow of water. It feels like being completely embraced by serenity (Ishikawa 1927).
Some model works, such as Araki Jippo's painting, left such a lasting impression that critics recalled it years later in their reviews (Arai 1935). Since it is impossible to identify Araki's painting which traveled to Taiwan in 1927, we can only speculate how the technical virtuosity of this renowned bird-and-flower salon artist must have appealed to contemporary viewers.
In the subsequent salons, the organizers abandoned the practice of organizing a special display of models perhaps due to lack of funding. Instead, they encouraged the invited jurors from Japan to bring their own works for the purpose of displaying them as model works. The Japanese language press in Taiwan often advertised in advance the subject matter and size of the jurors’ works and, upon the exhibition’s opening, reproduced and reviewed them in detail. On average, each juror would bring just one or two works. For example, Araki Jippo, who traveled to Taiwan as a juror for the 1935 salon, bought this work with him.
Japanese settler-artists expected much from the jurors' works. They repeatedly stated how difficult it was to see good paintings on the island and requested that jurors visiting from Japan bring their most representative and stimulating works with them. In his touching review of Umehara Ryūzaburō’s Sakurajima, on view at the Taipei salon in 1935, painter Tateishi Tetsuomi (1905-1980) recalled the sadness he had felt not being able to see the acclaimed work of his former teacher when it was first displayed in Tokyo at the Kokuga exhibition and the joy of finally having the opportunity to view the painting in person in Taipei (Tateishi 1935). Even though, in total, only a small number of model works from Japan were displayed at the Taipei salon, Japanese settler-artists attached great importance to them.
What is more, Japanese settler-artists and critics in Taiwan often complained about the jurors' model works in the press. The most often repeated criticism was that the work was small, not representative of the artist’s oeuvre, lacking educational merits, or that it could guide only beginners and would leave true art lovers dissatisfied. By and large, the artists did not complain about the specific styles or subject matter represented in the jurors' works. They just desired to see masterpieces rather than average paintings that the juror in question happened to have had on hand in his atelier as he was embarking on his trip to Taiwan (yes, all jurors at the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition invited from Japan were male). Some suspected, and rightly so, that the Japanese jurors did not take the Taiwanese art world seriously (Nagayama 1933, 124.). The very idea itself of learning by looking at good models was was not contested.
Also, education through models was conducted on a more local level. For example, some paintings by artists from the Tainan Prefecture which had previously been on display at the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition were on view as models at the Tainan Prefecture Schools Art Exhibition in 1934 (“Taihoku tsūshin” 1934, 127).
The use of Japanese modern paintings as model works at the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition reinforced a worldview according to which the geographic distance between the metropole and the colony equaled a gap in artistic progress. Moreover, it gestured to the desire of molding the future art in Taiwan on artistic models from Japan and with Japanese settler artists as major protagonists. Inasmuch as many jurors and salon organizers in Taiwan continuously championed so-called “local color” in works on display, suggesting that art in Taiwan should depict local subject matter and posses native characteristics, the implicit assumption was that such art should be simultaneously “Japanized” and able to speak to imperial audiences. Indeed, many paintings at the Taiwan salon depicted Taiwan's landscapes and customs considered exotic from the colonizer's viewpoint, especially the aborigine population of the island. With time, some art critics in Taiwan began to question these demands for local color as vague (Liao 2002, 202). Settler-artist and juror Shiotsuki Tōhō suggested that since the distance between Japan and Taiwan had shrunk so much, and since the young artists in Taiwan studied past and present art from all over the world, it would be impossible to expect them to produce artworks as if Taiwan were in isolation. He did, however, hope that the specific geographic conditions of the island would contribute to the eventual emergence of a distinct art (Shiotsuki 2001 , 281).
The popularity of the local color discourse in the 1930s reflected a larger shift within the empire towards an understanding of Japan as a nation of diverse cultural regions. Historian Kate McDonald describes it as geography of cultural pluralism. She suggests that it came up in response to the anti-colonial movements and functioned as a way to sustain the hierarchy between the metropole and the colonies (McDonald 2017, 17, 85, 159).
The question of local color in the art of colonial Korea and Taiwan has been widely debated and studied. Recently, scholars have turned to highlighting the inherent contradictions of this discourse (Lin 2008, 146; see also Kwon 2015).
Arts Section of the Classified Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Books
tōyōga; tōyō; seiyōga
Taiwan Government-General Library
We can get a detailed understanding of available books by examining the collection catalogues. The library published its first classified catalogue in 1918 and every few years thereafter brought out additional volumes to account for its expanding collection and make it more easily searchable for the library users. Click here to see the classified catalogue of books in the arts, industry, and home economics sections acquired between 1918 and 1927.
Now, let us look at the 800 Arts section of the catalogue. This rather mundane classification of books into subsections, designed to improve access to information, largely followed the categorization scheme developed for the Imperial Library in the Meiji period. It reflected hierarchies between the genres and mapped out the boundaries of painting very loosely along geographic (but not necessarily ethnic) lines.
The subject headings in the Arts section of the Japanese and Chinese language books (Wakan tosho) catalogue contains the following subheadings:
- 800 Arts (Geijutsu)
- 810 Calligraphy and Painting (Shoga)
- 820 Sculpture and Metalwork
- 830 Lacquer
- 840 Plate-making and Printing
- 850 Photography
- 860 Music
- 870 Entertainment and Leisure
The 810 subsection for Calligraphy and Painting contains the following subheadings:
- 811 Painting / General
- 812 Japanese Painting (Nihonga) and Chinese Painting (Shinaga)
- 813 Japanese Painting (Nihonga) and Chinese Painting (Shinaga) / Organized by School
- 814 Western Painting (Yōga) and Contemporary Painting (Gendaiga)
- 815 Calligraphy (Sho)
- 816 Stylized Signatures (Kaō)
- 817 Seal Engraving, Books of Seals, Seals
The library's categorization does not include a subheading named “tōyōga,” which was the word Guo Xuehu used to describe one kind of painting he was studying at the library. The word tōyōga has appeared in publications in Japan in the Meiji period to compare and distinguish East Asian painting from its Western counterpart, seiyōga (also known as yōga). In fact, the subheading 812/813 encompasses Japanese and Chinese painting and corresponds to tōyōga. Section 8137, a subsection of 813, includes Chinese painting, Southern School, Northern School, and Literati Painting. The few books on Korean painting in the catalogue can also be found under the 812/813 subject heading.
The term tōyōga evokes the spatial category of “the East.” Stefan Tanaka has argued that tōyō, understood as China's past, was Japan's version of the “Orient,” or the uncivilized Other. He demonstrated how historian Shiratori Kurakichi (1865-1942), by strategically stressing similarities and differences between Japan and tōyō, succeeded in constructing a history of Japan that situated it within the framework of world history and elevated it as a modernized country in contrast to China, “a troubled placed mired in its past” (Tanaka 1993, 4).
Similarly, artists and critics in Meiji and Taishō period Japan, faced with the cultural imperialism of oil painting made in the West and with western Orientalism, responded with their own discourse on Japanese and East Asian art. This discourse aimed to prove the value and modernity of East Asian art, with Japan's art at its center. Japan's own Orientalism elevated selected genres of pre-modern East Asian art, while at the same time paying little heed to contemporary artistic production in colonized areas such as Korea and Taiwan. The attitudes towards Chinese art were more complex. In the 1920s and 1930s, artists from Japan and China organized a series of exhibitions together (Wong 2006). At the same time, they also competed with each other to represent East Asia through exhibitions in Europe and the USA (Su 2021). (For more discussion of tōyōga and nihonga in relation to Guo Xuehu's paintings see here). The inclusion of Japanese and Chinese painting under the same subheading gestures to this competition.
It is important to clarify that the category of seiyōga encompassed both paintings produced by European artists as well as works in oil and watercolor by Japanese artists. Thus, the distinction between tōyōga/nihonga and seiyōga was one of medium and widely conceived artistic traditions or “schools&rqduo; rather than a geographic designation or a label referring to the artist’s ethnicity or national origins. In a world where the access to art knowledge was growing globally and the differences in art education would shrink considerably in the decades to come (notice how Guo Xuehu points out the “dozens of thousands of people” as his potential art teachers in the library), policing regional differences became an increasingly complex undertaking.
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Guo Xuehu's Early Career and Paintings
Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition; nihonga; seiyōga; tōyōga; art historians
Kabayama Elementary School, location of the first Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition
Born in 1908, Guo Xuehu belongs to the first generation of artists in Taiwan who grew up under the Japanese colonial rule and who achieved professional recognition at the annual Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition (est. 1927). He traveled for the first time to Japan in 1931, visiting museums, temples, and artists in Kyoto and Tokyo. He returned to Japan in the 1950s and then moved there permanently in 1964. In 1978 he settled in Richmond, California. He passed away in 2012 (Taipei Fine Arts Museum 1989, 25; National Museum of History 2008).
The word “artist” doesn't have apparent spatial connotations like the word “migrant.” Yet, artists often travel or resettle in search of art education, subject matter, or art markets. More importantly, artists shape and mediate our understanding of place by representing landscapes and people in their art. Art historians evoke place when referring to an artist's country of origin, nationality, or ethnicity. They (we!) often unselfconsciously reinforce these spatial categories when working within an established canon.
Furthermore, art historians divide artworks into location-derived categories. For example, painting in Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century has been divided into two categories: nihonga and seiyōga. Both of these categories evoke spatial entities, “Japan” and “the West” respectively. Artists and bureaucrats in Japan established these two categories in response to West's cultural imperialism. Institutions such as exhibitions, art associations, and art schools, upheld this division of painting into nihonga and seiyōga. However, the spatial associations of these two terms work to obscure rather than illuminate the actual artistic practice. Nihonga and seiyōga paintings share many stylistic and thematic similarities and the boundaries between them were often fluid. Artists in Japan debated the meanings of each category and many artists engaged in both media. Both categories reflect a Japan-centric view of global art in the time of empire.
This pathway examines Guo Xuehu's early career to illuminate how the artistic infrastructures of the Japanese empire influenced his early development as an artist and how, in turn, his work shaped the boundaries of nihonga. Guo Xuehu submitted his paintings to the tōyōga division of the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition. The term tōyōga evokes the spatial category of “the East” or “the Orient.” However, paintings displayed in this category in Taiwan excluded literati painting. Instead, they centered nihonga works as the present and future of East Asian art and a worthy counterpart to oil painting. Ultimately, by promoting nihonga in the colony, Japanese artists lost their putative monopoly on nihonga and it became a creative medium for some Taiwanese-Chinese artists.
Moreover, this pathway demonstrates what it took to become an artist in the Japanese empire in the 1920s and 1930s. Guo Xuehu did not follow a typical path to artistic success because he was largely self-taught. Yet, as a an artist with an excellent exhibition record, he became successful in Taiwan's art establishment.
Questions for the classroom:
- What are the points of convergence and the respective silences in the histories of modern Taiwanese and Japanese art?
- How would Japanese modern art history look like if it featured Guo Xuehu as one of its protagonists?
- Why would art historians of Japan include him in their history? Or shouldn't they (we)?
- At what point has nihonga stopped being an artistic medium particular to Japan and Japanese artists? How can we conceptually describe this process?
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Bijutsuka o kokorozasu hito no tame ni; Nakagawa Kigen; Yokogawa Kiichirō; Ishino Takashi
Kabayama Elementary School, location of the first Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
In general, painters in Japan in the first half of the twentieth century specialized in one of the two modes of painting: nihonga and seiyōga. The distinction between the two modes was based on the medium, painterly technique, and the presumed set of traditions and masters each mode was indebted to, not on the nationality of the painter or the subject matter of the work.
By the early 1920s, the knowledge of artistic professionalization became codified and made available in how-to-paint books and career guidebooks for aspiring artists. Such publications propagated painting as a modern career that one could pursue by studying artworks in reproduction and in original, by receiving direct instruction at an art school, and by networking.
For example, painter Nakagawa Kigen (1892-1972) and art critic Yokogawa Kiichirō (1895-1973) co-authored a specialized guide entitled Bijutsuka o kokorozasu hito no tame ni (For People Aspiring to Become Artists). Published in 1933, it belonged to the Gendai shokugyō gaido bukku (Guide Books to Modern Professions) series, which included guides on how to become a journalist, musician, writer, pilot, filmmaker, business executive, lawyer, beautician, working woman, and soldier. The book emphasized how art education and a stellar exhibition record constituted the two key paths to establishing oneself as a professional artist.
Bijutsuka o kokorozasu hito no tame ni outlined four methods of studying oil painting, listed according to their desirability and effectiveness: entering an art school, entering an oil painting research studio, receiving individual instruction, and studying from books. The authors indicated that the last method was least effective. However they considered it an option for people who were unable to pursue any of the other three methods. They also suggested that the last option was less desirable in the case of nihonga because of its difficult technique and so the authors strongly encouraged aspiring artists to seek other options beyond studying books (Nakagawa and Yokogawa 1933, 159.).
Ishino Takashi's (1897-1967) Shuppin kara nyūsen made (From Submission to Acceptance at an Exhibition, 1934), and Zenkoku bijutsuten shuppin annai (The Nationwide guide to participation in exhibitions, 1942) provided detailed guidance on successful exhibition participation. The author explained the characteristics of each exhibition and advised potential participants to submit their work to the exhibition with the best fit. He suggested that the work should attract attention of jurors and future audiences by making a lasting impression. He also advised perseverance, as one's work would typically be rejected two or three times before finally securing acceptance.
According to Ishino, artists should create a good working environment by visiting exhibitions and collecting reproductions from art magazines and materials that might make good sources for still lifes. When learning how to paint, artists should engage in critically evaluating their own works, practice painting on a large-sized canvas that one would use to submit to an exhibition, send their work by post to receive a critique through mail (tsūshin hihyō), join a group of fellow painters, and inform themselves about the art establishment. He also suggested that it was possible for a self-taught oil painter to exhibit in any art society, in contrast to nihonga painters, who would typically exhibit only with a group of their artistic affiliation. Having introduced the most important developments in oil painting over the past twenty years, such as fauvism, cubism, futurism, expressionism, abstraction, and constructivism, he strongly advised against blindly copying any of these styles. He stated that painting was akin to science (kagaku/saiensu) and also entailed individual expression. Overall, the author balanced between not imposing anything on the painters while pointing them towards the type of painting that would be accepted at exhibitions.
Ishino's two books were aimed at empire-wide audiences. Shuppin kara nyūsen made directly addressed instructors of drawing and encouraged them to participate in art exhibitions to reap the benefits, such as consolidating one's reputation, having a motivational impact on one's own students, achieving personal cultivation, and gaining an opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of one's own work in comparison to others on display. The author often addressed the particular situation of artists and art instructors living in the provinces (chihō), for example, by providing detailed information on transport companies that handled artwork for submission to exhibitions. Although the scope of the provinces was left unsaid in his first book, the second book included a typology of exhibitions with official salons in Seoul and Taipei discussed under "regional exhibitions" (chihōten). The book provided a short history of the two salons and reprinted an excerpt of their respective regulations pertaining to eligibility requirements. Clearly, the author recognized that his readership extended to the empire.
tōyōga; Cai Xuexi; Chen Yingsheng; Guo Jinhuo
Taipei Country College of Industry
Guo Xuehu's name at birth was Jinhuo. Jinhuo lost his father when he was only two years old and relied on his mother for support. In elementary school, he received his earliest formal art education—in watercolor—from his art instructor Chen Yingsheng. In 1923, he graduated from elementary school and enrolled in Taipei Country College of Industry to study engineering. Yet, he quit school after only one semester to pursue art. He needed to forge a viable career for himself.
In the 1920s and 1930s, aspiring artists in Taiwan, Japanese or Taiwanese-Chinese, had a few options to enter on a path of professional training. They could study privately with an art instructor, become an apprentice in a professional workshop, or leave Taiwan to attend an art school in Japan. In 1925, Guo Jinhuo entered a four month long apprenticeship with Cai Xuexi (1884-1964). The other two options were out of his financial reach.
Cai Xuexi was a professional painter from Fujian who specialized in ink painting. He taught Guo how to mount paintings and encouraged copying as a study method. He also gave Guo his artistic name “Xuehu,” under which he is known today. Guo learnt at his studio how to paint Daoist and other religious subjects (Kuo 2000, 49-50; Taipei Fine Arts Museum 1989, 17, 207). Moreover, the work in Cai's studio provided the young aspiring artist with an opportunity to view many paintings and thus contributed to his early art education.
When describing his artistic path in the essay submitted to the library contest just a few years later, Guo Xuehu downplays this apprenticeship and doesn't mention Cai Xuexi's name. Instead, he emphasizes how he got the job of a scroll mounter because it would allow him to look at “many great paintings.” In this way, he disassociates himself from Chinese painting traditions without directly disavowing them. Or, instead of being an artist who carries out painting traditions of one specific region (Fujian) or an ethnic group (Chinese), he claims a library-based education that spans large swaths of East Asia.
Cai Xuexi's paintings and those of some other artists working in ink painting and calligraphy traditions of the Qing dynasty were rejected from the first Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition. As far as we can judge from reproductions and remaining newspaper sources, the Japanese jurors at the Taiwan salon preferred paintings in style of contemporary nihonga works. They did accept some literati landscapes, yet overall these works appear more aligned with contemporary trends in literati painting in Japan rather than China. (It is difficult to do careful stylistic analysis when few original works from the first exhibition remain and you need to rely on small black and white reproductions. See this database for reproductions of all works from the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibitions and information on participating artists.) For this reason, some art historians have criticized the concept of tōyōga as a misnomer and suggest that in fact works in the tōyōga division at the salon were stylistically so close to nihonga that the term itself stood for Japan's putative takeover of the leadership of East Asian painting (see Yen 2007, 85; Liao 1996, 43; Kuo 2000).
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Tokyo School of Fine Arts; Tokyo bijutsu gakkō
Tokyo School of Fine Arts
Women's Art School
Tokyo School of Fine Arts (Tōkyō bijutsu gakkō) constituted the pinnacle of professional training in Japan. It administered entry exams and required its applicants to have graduated from high schools. Many of its graduates went on to work as art teachers at middle and high-schools throughout Japan and in colonial Korea and Taiwan (Kaneko 2015).
Tokyo School of Fine Arts and other specialized art schools, such as the Imperial Art School, Culture Academy, Tama Imperial Art School, and the Women's Art School, as well as art schools in Kyoto and Osaka accepted students from Korea and Taiwan as well as Japanese who were born or grew up in the colonies. Because no public art schools were established in Taiwan before 1945, some aspiring artists moved to Japan or Europe to enroll in such an institution.
Tokyo School of Fine Arts accepted in total 30 male Taiwanese students and 89 male Koreans in the pre-1945 period (Yoshida 2009, 10.). The majority of male students from the colonies came to Japan to pursue oil painting. The numbers of those interested in studying nihonga increased only gradually. In general, aspiring artists from Taiwan enrolled at these institutions came from wealthy backgrounds. (See also Kate McDonald's discussion of mobile students from the colonies and their experiences in Tokyo; and Wong 2013.)
painting manuals; Yamamoto Kanae; Aburae no egakikata; Ishikawa Kin'ichirō
Taiwan Government-General Library
The selection of traditional painting manuals (gafū) with images to be used for copying practice and more recent largely text based how-to-paint books at the Taiwan Government General Library speaks to the educational aspirations of the library. The subsection of the 812 Japanese and Chinese Painting dedicated to painting techniques had 13 books in 1917, and by 1927 acquired additional 15. Among them were two Japanese translations of the widely renowned Chinese painting manual from the early Qing dynasty, Kaishien gaden (En. Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden, Ch. Jieziyuan Huazhuan), as well as three different “How to paint nihonga” books by contemporary Japanese artists. The increase appears modest, yet it does suggest a steady interest.
Similarly, the 814 Western Painting section had a total of 13 technique-related books in 1917, and acquired additional 23 by 1927. Their subject matter ranged from how to paint in oils, watercolor, pencil drawing, and crayon, to how to handle composition, human figure, and landscape. The library owned Yamamoto Kanae's extremely popular Aburae no egakikata (How to paint in oil), as well as two publications by the renowned watercolor artist, long-term resident of Taiwan, and exhibition juror, Ishikawa Kin'ichirō: Shasei shinsetsu (New text on sketching, 1914), and Shindai gajutsu (Painting techniques for the new times, 1926). Many prominent artists in Japan and some artists of the middle ranks penned how-to-paint books. This activity must have provided additional income and was an extension of their work as art instructors in public schools and private ateliers.
How-to-paint books made artistic knowledge more accessible and targeted a range of audiences. Some explained the basics to amateur painters in pursuit of hobby and pleasure. Others catered to young aspiring artists, giving advice on the development of an artistic career and the steps necessary to establish oneself professionally. Yet others provided highly technical information about pigments and painting techniques relevant to professional artists. Overall, these how-to-books were largely text based and focused on advice. They did feature some reproductions or a few drawings, yet they did not include workbook-like materials for a hands on practice. The authors seemed aware of the limitations of the book medium in artistic transmission and thus focused on encouragement and explaining practical matters, such as necessary equipment or what constituted basic drawing skills and subject matter.
A pamphlet published on the occasion of the Library Week at the Taiwan Government General Library in 1932, Saikin ōku yomareta ryōsho 200-shu (Selection of 200 popular books), suggests that how-to books were especially popular among the library's users. Except for Tōyō bijutsu no chishiki (Knowledge of Eastern art) and Sankō sekai bijutsu yomihon seiyō hen (Reference reader in world art: Volume on Western art), all other positions listed in the arts section were how-to books on the various techniques of printing, sketching, oil painting, and photography, headed by Ōta Saburō's Aburae no egakikata (How to Paint in Oil).
These Japanese language how-to-paint books helped popularize in the colonies new (some would say “modern”) worldviews regarding artistic professionalization, such as the importance of attending an art school and establishing a stellar exhibition participation record. By doing so, they must have brought into sharp relief the limited opportunities for artists in Taiwan in comparison to metropolitan Japan. Also, even as the how-to-books often focused on one specific technique or medium, overall they reinforced the conceptual categorization of painting into nihonga and seiyōga in accordance with the recent custom in Japan. The putatively universal image of the artistic profession had in fact implicit imperial geography (see also Holca 2016, 68).
Tōyōga (tongyanghwa in Korean, dongyanghua in Chinese) is translated into English as "Oriental-style painting." It refers to paintings with ink and mineral pigments on silk or paper.
The term tōyōga appeared in publications in Japan in the second half of the nineteenth century to compare and distinguish East Asian painting from oil painting, which became known as seiyōga. Tōyōga came into wider use in colonial Korea and Taiwan after the establishment of the Korea Fine Arts Exhibition in 1922 and the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition in 1927, respectively. Each of these salons for contemporary art featured two divisions for painting, one for tōyōga and one for seiyōga (initially, the Korea Fine Arts Exhibition had also a third division for calligraphy. In 1932 it was abolished and replaced with crafts division). In this way, tōyōga was the equivalent of the metropolitan nihonga division in the colonies. In certain contexts, artists and critics used the term nihonga as a synonym to tōyōga.
The word tōyō means "the Orient." The name tōyōga suggests incorporation of East Asian painting styles. However, few literati paintings made it into the exhibition. In practice the tōyōga works at the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibitions showed close stylistic resemblance to nihonga. Guo Xuehu's "Scenery Near Yuanshan", which received a special award at the second Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition, exemplifies this issue well. See discussion of Guo Xuehu's art to better understand the relationship of nihonga and tōyōga.
This page references:
- 1 2020-01-02T02:06:03-05:00 Tōyōga Painter, Nihonga Artist 78 Ōsawa Sadayoshi; Araki Jippo; Yen Chuanying; Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere; Daitōa kyōeiken; Solitude; Silence plain 2021-10-04T17:41:46-04:00 25.0383, 121.5641 Taipei 25.04537, 121.52253 35.6833, 139.7833 Tokyo 25.04086, 121.51122 35.01141, 135.79448 1927-1942 Magdalena Kolodziej Taiwan Government-General Library Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto Guo Xuehu Araki Jippo Ōsawa Sadayoshi Kabayama Elementary School, location of the first Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition
- 1 media/guo xuehu 1928 scenery near yuanshan.jpg 2019-11-18T17:20:13-05:00 Model Works 76 sankōhin; sketching; looking at art; local color; Japanized art; Araki Jippo; Umehara Ryūzaburō; Tateishi Tetsuomi plain 2021-10-04T17:06:42-04:00 35.7500, 139.5000 Tōkyō 25.0383, 121.5641 Taipei 22.9908, 120.2133 Tainan 25.04346, 121.52242 31.58333, 130.65 Sakurajima 1907-1935 Magdalena Kolodziej Shiseigunyakusho, display of model works Tokyo School of Fine Arts Japan Art Association Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition
- 1 2020-08-17T22:44:15-04:00 Seiyōga 23 seiyōga; seiyoga; yoga; plain 2021-03-11T10:33:35-05:00 Magdalena Kolodziej
- 1 2020-09-03T20:11:21-04:00 Tōyōga 17 tongyanghwa; dongyanghua plain 2021-02-16T00:08:06-05:00 Magdalena Kolodziej
- 1 2020-09-04T22:51:14-04:00 Literati Painting 7 bunjinga; nanga; wenrenhua plain 2021-08-06T00:45:28-04:00 Magdalena Kolodziej
- 1 media/Konoshima_Okoku_Regenschauer_links_thumb.jpg 2021-02-16T00:29:51-05:00 Konoshima Ōkoku, Drizzling Shower of Rain, 1907. 4 Konoshima Ōkoku"s "Drizzling Shower of Rain" (left screen), first on display at the first Ministry of Education Fine Arts Exhibition, 1907. Today, in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. media/Konoshima_Okoku_Regenschauer_links.jpg plain 2021-08-03T09:06:09-04:00 Wikipedia commons. Public domain. Magdalena Kolodziej
- 1 media/Konoshima_Okoku_Regenschauer_rechts_thumb.jpg 2021-02-16T00:30:56-05:00 Konoshima Ōkoku, Drizzling Shower of Rain, 1907. 3 Konoshima Ōkoku's "Drizzling Shower of Rain" (right screen), first on display at the first Ministry of Education Fine Arts Exhibition, 1907. Today, in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. media/Konoshima_Okoku_Regenschauer_rechts.jpg plain 2021-08-03T09:07:43-04:00 Wikipedia commons. Public domain. Magdalena Kolodziej