|Kouzui Shimoura,Expresses mountains,understanding their essence
Mt. Fuji has been an important theme for painters in Japan since the Edo period,
and the Huangshan Mountain was an essential motif to painters at the turn of dynasty
from Ming to Ching in China. It is well known that Cezanne in his later years used to
paint Mont Sante-Victoire day after day. Both in the East and the West, many painters
since old times have painted mountains,from the small ones neighboring on villages
to the big like the Japan Alps and tbe Himalayas.
Rising to the sky,mountains are sublime and beautiful. But they sometimes
refuse and lead us astray. As religious,sporting,adventurous and purely aesthetic
objects, mountains have been adored and held us in awe. Needless to say,they have
attracted many painters. Kouzui Shimoura is one of them,and has been fascinated
with mountains. ln 1956,it was on the news that the Japan Mountaineering
Party had sueceeded in reaching the summit of Mt. Manaslu in the Himalayas.
Mt. Manaslu is 8,156 meters in height and the eighth highest mountain in the world.
The news deeply moved many people, and also touched Shimoura's heart.
At that time he was a junior high school boy in Osaka, and the following year
he recklessly challenged to climb Hodaka mountains.
Although be climbed with his elder brother,it was nothing but adventure. Shimoura
looks back over it and says, " I climbed with jeans and canvas shoes on, without
crampons. As l didn't know about mountains,l didn't care about my outfit.It was
thoughtless climbing.When l think of it now, that climbing must have heen as
dangerous as losing my life. All l had was an enthusiasm for climbing, which moved me
into such an action without thinking about the fear of nature. Therefore,I had just a
broad impression that the mountain was big and beautiful,and couldn't feel the
atmosphere deeply as l lost my composure in this adventure."
This is his memory of fifteen years old. Since then, mountains have fascinated
him, and become a main motif for his painting. From twenty to twenty-eight years old,
he had lived and worked in mountains, mainly Mt.Hodaka mountains and Mt.Tsurugi.
He had shut himself into them for eight months a year. This was a start of building up
his experience in mountains. He says, "I used to stand my easel at the hut and paint
mountains day after day. Sometimes I would go down to villages to buy foods and
necessities for painting and again go up. Mountains were changing day after day,in the
morning and the evening, under the clear sky and the dark sky.Once or twice a year,
I have come across incredible scenes, which were
as marvelous as I had a feeling of awe. This experience hecame my big fortune,
and has made up my humble stance to mountains.
The more experience I have got in climbing them, the more discoveries I have."
Paintings express not only realistic but also fictitious world. Therefore it could be
reasonable to deform a visible world, but it becomes unworthy if the deformation is the
lack of the subject's essence. It is very difficult to understand essence of mountains.
|The world of colours and forms heightened mystica11y
Is it true that only mountaineers could understand the essence of mountains?
Shimoura says, "Only the people who have climbed mountains could grasp the
essence." He also says that it is difficult to express their beauties which he wants to
paint on the canvas, though he has a lot of experiences in mountains. He recalls a day
and says, "When I was living and working in Mt.Tsurugi,I used to go to see the
Toyama plains every evening. The moment the sun sets,we have a high possibility to
encounter graceful scenes of mountains. It was happened on a windy day,just before
the typhoon came. Glolden coloured clouds were running on the dark sky,red ones were
leaving tracings above the horizon,and the brown rocky mountain was enhanced by
light. In the middle purple broken clouds appeared and green ones were floating up
straight above the sea of clouds.This beautiful scenery was beyond all description."
Nature has profound beauties,and in some cases it creates incredible colours.
Meanwhile,painting has profound expressions. Painting has to express such an
incredible nature with paints. The colour seen in the mountain might be beyond our
daily images. Simoura does not simply paint such a scene with ordnary colours. His
strong colour scheme he builds up is the fruit of earnest communication with
mountains for many years.
|When painters paint mountains, they usually feel interest in shapes of mountains.
Then they become keen to express their mystique. About this point, Shimoura says,
"When I was twenty years old, I took charge of a small hut in Yatsugatake mountains
and l was staying at just a six-mat room. At night, however,l was seized with fear and
got to no sleep until the dawn. The third day,I felt to be impatient to go back to town.
I recognized my weakness derived from the urban life. But strangely enough, this
miserable feeling challenged me to go out on the fourth night, Just then I calmed down.
At break of dawn, the South Japan Alps, Mt. Kaikoma, and Mt.Fuji came into my sight,
and then the sun raised. Unconsciously I said to thank the scenery.Since then I have
had conceived an adoration for mountains, which is nothing to do with religious faith.
It doesn"t mean spiritualism, but it is impossible to express mountains without the
adoration for them."
|The Beauty of the Himalayas, leading into the universe
When I was thirty years old, I climbed in the Himalayas for the first time, Since
then I had climbed it every year for a certain period,
"The Himalayas is so big that we can not find any words to describe it, expect a
word, the universe, it is entirely different from a world of 3,000 meters in height and
beyond our images. More than 5,000 meters above cobalt blue sky spreads as if the sky
made my hands dye in blue. It is as blue as the stratosphere becomes visible. As an
admonition to myself, I do not dare to step into a world more than 5,000 meters. If I
were young, I might have enough energy to climb upper. Meanwhile I have another
feeling that I want to keep it unknown for me to be more imaginative," he says.
his work called 'Longing for Muztagh Tower' has a marvelous scene as if
mountains were floating in the air, In this work,
he expresses his longing for the mountain which he has never been to,
His longing and passion for mountains never fade away.
Although he has painted various mountains, now the Himalayas is the main
theme of his works. His interest in mountains originated in a report and a
documentary movie of climbing up to the summit of Mt. Manaslu. When the
commemorative exhibition for the opening of the Kansai International Airport Was held
in 1994, Shimoura"s works were exhibited along beside model planes reconstructed by
a scholar in planes of the Edo period. It is the leader of the mountaineering party of Mt,
Manaslu who cut the tape for the opening. It was a curious turn of the fate, but this
occastion remaided him of his starting point, Mt,Manaslu, There might be few chances
to come across the beauty Shimoura is looking for, Even if he climbs various mountains
from the Himalayas which is a climax of his career, to Mt, Manaslu as his starting
point, his adoration to mountains would not fade away, To understand the essence of
express it and this process could be his work itself,
(Free-lance writer,Mutsuo MIZUGAMI)