Seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems: A Study of OMURA Seigai
OMURA Seigai (1868–1927) was active as an art critic during the middle of the Meiji Period and later in his life contributed substantially to the development of Oriental art history as a professor at the Tokyo Fine Art School. When OMURA’s relatives donated his papers to the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2008, SHIOYA Jun (National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo) served as a principal researcher in A Study of OMURA Seigai that began in 2009 through a grant-in-aid for scientific research. On October 18th, SHIOYA presented the results of that research at the 7th Seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems.
With “OMURA Seigai and moro-tai (vague style)” as his theme, SHIOYA explored the relationship between OMURA’s art criticism and Japanese-style painting during the middle of the Meiji Period. OMURA is known as a figure who criticized the innovative Japanese-style painting by the likes of YOKOYAMA Taikan and HISHIDA Shunso as “moro-tai,” but what is interesting is that a re-reading of this criticism reveals an aversion to the lines and brush strokes of Japanese-style painting and a tone that seems tied to that vague style. Through a re-appraisal of OMURA’s criticism, SHIOYA’s presentation sought to survey the path that modern Japanese-style painting took as it transformed from paintings that were “drawn” to paintings that were “painted.”
ONISHI Junko of the Tokyo University of the Arts then made a presentation entitled “‘Chinese Art History: Sculpture’ compiled by OMURA Seigai (A description of featured works).” Published in 1915, “‘Chinese Art History: Sculpture’ compiled by OMURA Seigai” was the earliest compilation covering Chinese sculpture as a whole and retains its value even today as a guide for many researchers in the history of Chinese sculpture. ONISHI described OMURA’s private papers and the texts he himself revised among the materials donated to the Tokyo University of the Arts. ONISHI also traced the events in the compilation of ‘Chinese Art History: Sculpture’ while identifying research by OMURA and relevant sources.
Researchers of the Institute and other facilities such as YOSHIDA Chizuko of the Tokyo University of the Arts, the leading figure in the study of OMURA, participated in an active discussion following the presentations. Researchers as well, many of the attendees responded especially to OMURA’s empirical approach as was touched upon in the presentation by ONISHI.