Kishida Ryusei (岸田劉生)

Ryusei KISHIDA (Male, June 23, 1891 - December 20, 1929) was a Western-style painter from the Taisho period to the early Showa period. His father was Ginko KISHIDA, a journalist.

Biography and Personal Profile

In 1891, he was born in Ginza, Tokyo as a child of Ginko KISHIDA, a pioneer in the Meiji period. His younger brother was Tatsuya KISHIDA, who later took a lively part in Asakusa Opera and became a playwright for the Takarazuka Revue. In 1908, after he dropped out of the Junior and Senior High School at Otsuka, attached to Tsukuba University, he entered Hakuba-kai Aoibashi Yoga-kenkyusho (research institute of Western-style paintings) located at Tameike, Akasaka (Minato Ward, Tokyo) in Tokyo and studied under Seiki KURODA. In 1910, prizes were given to two of his works in the Bunten exhibition (the annual art exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education). He became acquainted with Bernard Leach through an art exhibition sponsored by the "Shirakaba" magazine in 1911 and also came to know intellectuals relating to "Shirakaba" including Muneyoshi YANAGI and Saneatsu MUSHANOKOJI. Ryusei himself left plenty of writings including essays and diaries behind him, which were organized into "Complete works of Ryusei KISHIDA" (Ten volumes, Iwanami Shoten, Publishers, 1979 - 1980).

In 1912, he organized the Hyuzan-kai group with Kotaro TAKAMURA, Tetsugoro YOROZU and others, and sent 14 items of his works to the first Hyuzan-kai exhibition. This was to be his full-scale debut into the art world. (In 1913, the Hyuzan-kai exhibition changed its name from 'ヒュウザン会' to 'フュウザン会' [both are pronounced hyuzan-kai but in different spellings] at the second exhibition and with the former name, there were only two exhibitions held). Ryusei's early works were strongly influenced by the Postimpressionists, especially Paul Cézanne. Around this time on, his idiom was changing to a realistic one remarkably influenced by the great masters of the European Renaissance and Baroque, especially Albrecht Dürer.

In 1915, he sent his work to the first exhibition (the name of the exhibition was changed to 'Sodosha-ten' for the second exhibition and after) sponsored by 'Gendai no Bijutsusha' company. The members of the Sodosha group included Shohachi KIMURA, Hitoshi SEIMIYA and Kazumasa NAKAGAWA. Sodosha held nine exhibitions by 1922, of which Ryusei sent his works to all. One of the representative works of landscape painting of Ryusei was "Road Cut through a Hill" which was completed in 1915 and sent to the second Sodosha-ten in the next year.

In 1917, on suspicion of tuberculosis, he moved for a change of air to a rental villa in Kugenuma, Fujisawa-cho, Kanagawa Prefecture where his friend, Saneatsu MUSHANOKOJI, lived (it is said that tuberculosis was a mistaken diagnosis). He prepared a Dohyo (Sumo ring) in the garden, where he enjoyed Sumo with his guests. From around 1918, he came to paint portraits of his daughter, Reiko KISHIDA (1914 - 1962). He used his turning thirty in 1920 as the occasion for starting to keep a diary, which was published after his death. His broad relationships may be gathered from the above. Sadao TSUBAKI and Kakujiro YOKOBORI of Sodosha moved to Kugenuma due to their respect for Ryusei and there were young men, including Kazumasa NAKAGAWA, who lived in the Kishida family's house without paying. In 1923, his house was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake and he moved to Kyoto, but later moved to Kamakura. His days in Kugenuma were, so to speak, the golden age of Ryusei KISHIDA. Although Sodosha was automatically concluded following Ryusei's move to Kyoto, many of the members including Ryusei changed their stage of activities to the Shunyo-kai Art Society. In 1929, at the invitation of South Manchuria Railways (Mantetsu), he made his only trip abroad in his life staying in Dalian City, Hoten (Fengtian), Harbin and other places. Immediately after his return to Japan, he died of urine poisoning in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture (present Shunan City) where he was then staying. He was 38 years old. His tomb is in the Tama Cemetery.

Representative Works

'Road Cut through a Hill' (1915, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) (Important Cultural Property)
'An Apple Exists on Top of a Pot' (1916, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo)
'Reiko, Five Years Old' (1918, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo)
'Smiling Reiko' (1921, Tokyo National Museum) (Important Cultural Property)