Artists like Van Gogh faced harsh criticisms of their work by being different. His unusual perspective in the world made his pieces have an air of uniqueness and melancholy. Van Gogh would eventually go down in art history as one of the greatest innovators of art in his time and for generations to come. Now, artists are very much involved in the development of traditional art forms. Innovators are praised for their rigorous research, application, and execution of reinventing the old to the contemporary. Itchiku Kubota is one of Japan’s unique artists and an innovator of an art form that bridges the traditional and the modern with his mesmerising paintings drawn on kimonos.
The man behind the kimonos
Itchiku Kubota’s affinity with textile made him curious about the traditional art form of tsujigahana kimonos. The beautiful kimonos incorporate an old technique which held secrets in its procedures and methods lost in time. From his research, he figured out the intricacies of the art form and gave his twist to the process by applying his unique designs and the use of modern colours to decorate his paintings.
His first use of the method resulted in developing his brand of tsujigahana in 1962 after he perfected his base practice. He would, later, have his pieces exhibited in 1977 in Tokyo where his paintings would be recognised for their uniqueness and reinvention of the old with the new – earning his pieces the moniker of Itchiku tsujigahana to commemorate his rediscovery of the art form.
His pieces saved and preserved
His success would lead to his pieces being toured all across Japan and eventually throughout the world. After his death in 2003, his namesake museum would hold his pieces until an unprecedented incident. While his museum faced the threat of bankruptcy, it was thanks to one specific philanthropist that his creations were saved from being separated from one another. Dr Patokh Chodiev is a businessman and a man of the arts. His fascination with Japanese culture made him very much aware of Kubota’s collection and its financial dilemma. After the museum’s economic struggle in 2010, Kubota’s pieces were then acquired by Dr Chodiev’s ICF – International Chodiev Foundation to save the artworks from being put on auction and to allow the collection to be displayed in various exhibits and museums worldwide.
Nature as Subject
Much like the famous artist Katsushika Hokusai, Kubota’s subjects in his pieces were greatly influenced by natural environments and the beauty that they contain. Hokusai’s depiction of the Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji is one of the most recognised pieces of Japanese art. With the use of stellar complements and primary colours mixed with whites and blacks, he was able to create the iconic artwork of the various faces of Mt. Fuji in different seasons with a limited colour palette.
Kubota steps it up a notch and uses contemporary colours and palettes in creating spectacular images of the seasons with much more dramatic colours matched with modern methods of painting.