Painting Style

Painting Style: The Spirit of Kyushu

First, his representative works are shown: "The family of a painter"((194x130, 1951)[SPMAM], "Dialog"(113x131)[SPMAM], and "The lava belt in flower blossoms"(162x130, 1978)[NPAM]. They were awarded with the Biggest Honors, the Chrysanthemum Prize, and the Member Prize by Nitten, respectively. Particularly, he was the first winner of both the Chrysanthemum and the Member Prizes after they were set up by Nitten. This may signify that the creative activity of Ishimoto led to such honorable evaluation.

The family of a painter Dialog The lava belt in flower blossoms

Ishimoto’s painting style has been partially described by Matsumoto on the page of Profile. The description is based on Ishimoto’s belief and his background, that is, Kyushu. It is often said that the work at remote districts from Tokyo is apt to be behind that at Tokyo in various fields. Kenzo Tajika, art critic, makes an adequate comment to Ishimoto's effort to overcome such a handicap. This is a description from the side of the central painting circles. The following is citation from Tajika's comment in the collection of painting published in celebration of Ishimoto's retirement[Tajika,74]:

The hill of a portThe exhibition of Nitten in 1961 was the third one since it made great innovation to improve its fixed system and habit only from which it was doing so in those days. A lot of works that intend to be unconventional were exhibited, of which "The Hill of a Port" is the liveliest and most outstanding. ---------- The Western style painting is powerful only when they keep painting reality and going ahead without hesitation. -----------The Western style painting often suffers from a monotonous, photograph-like character. It might be the very works exhibited at Nitten in the past that are suffered from such a character above all, because they were so moderate.
In this situation is bold and daring "The Hill of a Port". It views sea and port with bird's eyes, and paints the entire city exhaustively, containing complicated shape and location of buildings. Further, the bird's view is extended to the foot of the hill, and continues to faraway mountains. At the same time, lively movement that covers all the view and surges over us arises in the picture: the blue sea makes waves, the ships go and come with a loud whistle, the city shows life, and buildings are competing with each other in their height in a strange way. In addition to this lively movement, clear, smart color arises in the picture, either: the blue of sea is the liveliest, and the white of buildings changes in various ways.

After the review of "The Hill of a Port"(145x113, 1971)[TEB] mentioned above, Tajika took a reference to the background of Ishimoto's activity:

It is generally known that Kyushu has its own system without simple assimilation into the system of Tokyo which can often be seen in the neighbor areas of Tokyo. Ishimoto has his own spirit of Kyushu, either. ---------- Some are born fortunate, and others are not, or he may not dare have lived in Tokyo but in Kyushu as his home ground. This should have brought him great inconvenience for his glorious debut to the painting circle. He may have hated bother and complexity of the central painting circle, building up the robustness to keep his expression independent or non-dominated.

Tajika's review goes on. He described "Garyumatsu"(Pine trees like a lying dragon)(112x145, 1961) as follows:

'Garyumatsu'In this situation, the works of the painter simply keep going ahead without any consideration on the abstracts which gave a great shock to the painting circle, and swept all the expressions out of school, or without any interest in finding out modern appeal through a novel mode. Since there were little painters who think of the very weight or strength coming from the deep inside, he should be ready to go ahead alone.
Garyumatsu in 1961 was a remarkable work in sharpness and courage, intending to have the weight and, at the same time, the lively movement.
Then, some impression should have made the painter get excited. On the right side of the picture, a trunk with a tall root is rising diagonally. On the left side, another trunk is also rising diagonally, but it is divided into two by a branch. Everyone will open his/her eyes with the intensity of the branch. This intensity is one of the focuses of the work, in which all the details are abandoned, leaves are heavy with soul, and the picture is filled with strong will which strikes us with a heavy force.

Thus, Tajika reviewed Ihimoto's works from the side of the central circles.


The owners of the images of square brackets are as follows. The author would like to thanks to their agreement to the appearance of those images:

[NPAM]  Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum
[SPMAM] Saga Prefectural Museum & Art Museum
[TEB]   The Eighteenth Bank


[Tajika,74] Kenzo Tajika: On the Art of Hideo Ishimoto, Steering committee(ed): Painting Collection of Hideo Ishimoto, 1974.

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