Uemura Shoko (上村松篁)

Shoko UEMURA (November 4, 1902 – March 11, 2001) was a Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) artist. He was born in Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. His real name was Shintaro.

He entered the Kyoto City Specialist School of Painting (currently Kyoto City University of Arts) in 1921, and also became the disciple of Suisho NISHIYAMA at the same. He entered Shoko-sha, a private school of painting.

In later years, Shoko mostly presented his works at Teiten (The Japan Art Academy Exhibitions) and Nitten (The Japan Fine Arts Exhibitions), but in 1948 he left Nitten and formed a new organization with several other artists called "Sozo Bijyutsu" (Creation of Art). He left many masterpieces, while the eloquent point of Shoko was the bird-and flower genre of Japanese paintings in dignified style based on a through, realistic depiction of the subjects. He was awarded the Order of Culture in 1984.

His mother was one of the masters of bijinga in modern era (pictures of beautiful women), Shoen UEMURA. His son, Atsushi UEMURA, is also a Nihonga artist.

Brief Personal History
1902: He was born in Kyoto. 1921: He was awarded his first prize at Teiten for his work "Quiet Garden Welcoming Autumn." 1928: He was awarded the highest honor at Teiten for his work "the Scenery of a flock of Mandarin Ducks on a Lotus Pond." 1948: He formed an organization of Nihonga called "Sozo Bijyutsu" with Koichi OKUMURA, Fuku AKINO, Kyujin YAMAMOTO and others. 1959: He received the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts. 1967: He received the Award of the Japan Art Academy. 1973: He was decorated with the 3rd Class of the Order of the Sacred Treasure. 1981: He becomes a member of the Japan Art Academy. 1984: He was decorated with the Order of Culture. 1994: Shohaku Art Museum was established and opened. 2001: He died of heart failure. His died at the age of 98.

*Sozo Bijyutsu later became the Nihonga Division of Shinseisaku Association, and reorganized as Sogakai.

His particular interest in Birds
Shoko was very particular about the sketch of birds, saying that "birds cannot be drawn without the understanding of the way they live," thus he traveled India, Australia, Southeast Asia for observing birds.

He mentioned quail as an especially difficult motif to actually sketch and depict its details.

Although he also participated in the Maruyama school, he mentioned his disapproval regarding the birds drawn by Maruyama school artists that those were not truly depicted as live birds yet.

His relationship with his mother, Shoen
Because young Shoko only remembered Shoen painting pictures by "shutting up herself in the studio on the second floor," he called Shoen as the 'Mother on the second floor.'

Out of the works of Shoen, he mentioned "Shunen" (Spring Garden) and "Tenpokagi" (Tenpo Era Songstress) as his favorites.

Although Shoko did not draw bijinga (there are exceptions such as "Manyo no Haru" [A Spring of the eternal world]), he admitted receiving influence from Shoen.

Takeshi UMEHARA's Critique
In an essay published in the December 1978 edition of a periodical called "Art Top," a philosopher Takeshi UMEHARA described the flowers-and-birds painting of Shoko UEMURA is a type of bijinga descended into the world of birds.'
He also mentioned, 'there is a "misanthropy" for the root of his persistence on flowers-and birds painting, which was carried over from his childhood.'

Major Works
"Hoshigoi" (Five Young Black-Crowned Herons as Stars) (1958, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo)
"Manyo no Haru" (A Spring of the eternal world) (1970, Shohaku Art Museum)
"Juka Yukin" (Phantom Bird Under Tree) (1966, The Japan Art Academy)
"Kansagi" (Quiet Herons) (1977, Yamatane Museum)

[Original Japanese]