Sazanami (Ripples) FUKUDA Heihachiro

1932 | color and platinum on silk | 156.6 x 185.8 cm


Commentary on work

Since his early years Fukuda Heihachiro painted waterside scenery. Sazanami (Ripples), which he created at age 40, has no water birds or plants, just a water surface with ripples. The originality of this painting overturned a convention of Japanese paintings. When the painter was fishing, he noticed that a breeze too gentle to be felt on the human skin was creating beautiful ripples on the lake surface. This scenery gave him an inspiration for the new painting. In order to grasp the instantaneously changing forms of the ripples, he made sketches and rough drawings until he discovered a simple, clean expression that succeeded in conveying an image of sunlit ripples quietly carrying the motion of the waves into the distance. The painting was exhibited in the 13th Teiten (Imperial Fine Arts Academy Exhibition) and provoked a dispute among the critics. But today, his challenge is rated highly as a pioneering experiment that broke new ground in Japanese painting. In a recent restoration, a layer of gold leaf was found under the layer of platinum leaf on which the ultramarine paints are placed.

Brief biography of artist

FUKUDA Heihachiro (1892–1974)

Born in Oita. Trained at Kyoto-shiritsu Bijutsu Kogei Gakko (Kyoto City School of Arts and Crafts) under Takeuchi Seiho and Nishiyama Suisho first and then educated at Kyoto College of Fine Arts till 1918. Yuki (Snow) was selected for inclusion in the 1st Teiten (Imperial Fine Arts Academy Exhibition) in 1919 and Fukuda won a special commendation with Koi (Carps) at the 3rd Teiten in 1921. From 1924 to 1937 he taught at Kyoto College of Fine Arts, his alma mater. Being a judge of the Teiten and Shin-Bunten (New Ministry of Education Fine Arts Exhibition) exhibitions, he established the Rikucho-kai with Nakamura Gakuryo, Yamaguchi Hoshun, Makino Torao, and Kimura Shohachi in 1930. After the war, he acted as an executive director and advisor in the Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition). In 1974, he died in Kyoto at the age of 82.

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