Reading Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) by NAKAI Sotaro: The 7th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

The seminar
Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) by NAKAI Sotaro published in Chuo Bijutsu Vol. 11, No. 1 (January 1925)

 Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai(Association for the Creation of National Painting)was founded by TSUCHIDA Bakusen, MURAKAMI Kagaku, and others in Kyoto, in 1918. It is renowned as one of the major innovation movements on Japanese-style paintings in the Taishō era. The ideology of this activity was based on NAKAI Sotaro (1879-1966), who taught art history at Kyoto City College of Painting (presently Kyoto City University of Arts). He was a member of Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai as an appraisal advisor, and published his critiques on the exhibitions (Kokuten*) and direction of the association in newspapers and art magazines.

 SHIOYA Jun provided a presentation focusing on Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) published in Chuo Bijutsu (Central Arts) Vol. 11, No. 1, in January 1925. The Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) is an article where NAKAI discussed the direction in which Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai and Japanese-style paintings should move, responding to the 4th Exhibition held both in Tokyo and Kyoto from 1924 through 1925. In the article, he discussed the identity of Japanese-style paintings and encouraged recognition of the tradition and the classics. I believe that he was referring to the trend of returning to the classics in the western art world, which he experienced during his European travel from 1922 to 1923. At the end of the Taishō era, neat Japanese-style paintings called “neoclassicism,” became dominant. The tone of his article Thoughts on the Exhibition (Kokuten) predicted such a movement.

 This seminar had Dr. TANAKA Shūji of Oita University and Dr. TANO Hatsuki of Shiga Museum of Art, as online commentators. They talked about the painting circle of Kyoto and NAKAI Sotaro in the discussion after the presentation. With other external researchers of Japanese modern arts, the discussion went beyond NAKAI’s remarks and Japanese-style paintings; they spoke about the art landscape from the end of the Taishō era to the early Shōwa era. The seminar involved an active, considerably lengthy exchange of opinions and information.

*Kokuten: exhibitions held by Kokuga-Sosaku-Kyokai

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