BENGALURU: Black and white, sometimes with a touch of colour... the paintings by Shukou Tsuchiya, a prominent Suibokuga/ Sumi-e (traditional Japanese ink painting) artist, enthralled an intimate gathering in the city when he showcased his skills in a live demonstration, and also fielded queries from the eager gathering. Tsuchiya’s effortless strokes mostly depicted nature, using black ink in dark as well as light shades, with a dash of colour sometimes adding a finishing touch.
“My main goal is to restore the lost glory of Sumi-e paintings,” says Tsuchiya, who was in the city for the Japan Habba held over the weekend, and brought to life a 4-metre x 2-metre canvas through his strokes in 30 minutes.
Tsuchiya actively works towards popularising the art form by branching into newer avenues of portraying Sumi-e paintings, and often collaborates with famous fashion and automobile designers. His interest in this work began as a young boy who would visit his grandfather’s hotel and spa every summer during his holidays. A connoisseur of art, his grandfather spurred him to master the skill.
“I was highly influenced by my grandfather’s interest. When I told my mother I wanted to study art, she suggested I enrol at a school in Hyogo. When my master saw my work, he said I would become a master very soon. That happened within two years – when I was 22 years old,” says the 45-year-old artist who now guides around 180 students himself. “In the recent past, I have been reducing my teaching days because it involves a lot of time,” adds Tsuchiya.
According to Takayuki Kitagawa, Consul-General of Japan in Bengaluru, who was present for the two-hour event, this form of art originated in China but soon became a part of the Japanese culture.
“It’s just like bonsai, which actually originated in India. We then made it an art form. The traditional ink painting has a mark of its own, which is the difference from the Western oil paintings,” he says, adding that this is the first time that an ink painting artist has been invited for the Japan Habba. Kitagawa is happy with the way more people are showing an interest in the Japanese culture.
“When I first came here three years ago, there were about 1,500 participants. Last year, it went up to 6,000. It’s good to see Bengalureans interested in Japanese culture,” he says, adding that he is sure that the next event –the cosplay in March – will also see many people participating.