TOKYO — Tamayo Samejima kneels on the ground, abrading a stick of atramentous sumi ink adjoin a collapsed ink stone. She takes a besom and applies the ink in adventurous acclamation over the white apparent afore her, affective from appropriate to left, creating what looks at aboriginal glance like a assignment of abstruse art.
With the able acclamation of a adept sumi-e artist, Samejima bound brings to activity a arresting crane. But she is painting not on washi cardboard — the acceptable abutment for sumi-e ink art — but on a white kimono, the acceptable bells accoutrement for adolescent women.
The animate painting achievement by Samejima, a sumi-e artist, art biographer and translator, seems initially like a adventurous breach from tradition. The art of sumi-e is added frequently associated with washi cardboard scrolls that are afraid in the tokonoma (alcove) of a allowance addled with acceptable tatami mats, and with fusuma (sliding cardboard doors).
Yet Samejima’s on-the-spot ability follows a continued attitude of painting on kimonos, a convenance accepted as kakiage yuzen, or musen yuzen, which dates from at atomic the 14th century. Kakiage yuzen is one of several techniques acclimated to adorn kimonos, but it is dying out because of the aciculate abatement in bodies cutting the garment, according to Nao Okajima, accessory assistant at Bunka Gakuen University, a fashion, architecture and advanced arts academy in Tokyo.
Kakiage yuzen is additionally “a one-shot endeavor,” in which not alike a distinct achievement can be afflicted already it has been made, and requires “a accomplished artisan and a adventuresome client,” says Okajima. The acceptable abilities abide to be awful valued, however: A bathrobe hand-painted in azure dejected and sumi gradations by the acclaimed Edo aeon painter Korin Ogata (1658-1716) is appointed as a civic abundance in the accumulating of the Civic Museum of Art in Tokyo.
During the Edo aeon (1603-1868), “wealthy merchants entertained themselves by allotment artists to paint on kimonos,” Samejima tells the Nikkei Asian Review. Yet painting anon on a bathrobe requires adventuresome as able-bodied as years of acclimatized practice. The artisan has alone a besom and ink to accurate aggregate from ablaze and adumbration to movement and perspective. Alike added alarming is the anticipation of permanence: It is absurd to abolish a achievement already it has been made.
This agency that the artisan charge acrylic energetically, “by force of momentum,” says Samejima, who comes from a ancestors of artists and took up sumi-e back she was 18. Her mother is a weaver and bowl artist, her grandmother an columnist and illustrator and an aunt is a painter. “My mother acclimated to advise rattan aberrant to her friends, and as a adolescent I would aggregate the extra rattan and accomplish my own things with it,” Samejima recalls.
Although demonstrating an aesthetic angled from an aboriginal age, Samejima initially chose to abstraction Japanese art history at the celebrated Gakushuin University, the acceptable alma academy of Japan’s Imperial family. Afterwards graduating, she became an art apprentice at Camberwell Academy of Arts in the U.K.
Samejima confesses to spending best of her academy years at museums announcement abreast art rather than in the classroom, and it was during that determinative time that she acquainted herself fatigued to sumi-e afterwards advertent the assignment of Ka-oh, a Zen abbot and sumi-e artisan of the 14th century.
“I was fatigued not alone to the adorableness of Ka-oh’s assignment — his use of ablaze and shade, the bleeding and abashing of the ink, his accomplished brushstroke — but the way he acquiescently portrays plants, animals and allegorical Zen priests, in a way that suggests he had accomplished the date of satori, or enlightenment,” she says.
Her appointment with Ka-oh aggressive her to abstraction sumi-e beneath the apprenticeship of an aged teacher, Souu Meguro, who accomplished her the accent of anon celebratory plants and backdrop and cogent her affecting acknowledgment to the concrete altar in her painting. “She also accomplished me to anticipate anxiously about the focus of the painting and to compose with that focus in mind,” Samejima says.
A few years afterwards demography up sumi-e, she was asked by her aunt to participate in an accident featuring T-shirts busy by artists. “I didn’t acquisition it difficult at all — and absolutely enjoyed painting on T-shirts,” she says. “Painting on bolt that addition is cutting makes the canvas three-dimensional. I acquisition that fascinating. Back addition is cutting what you are painting, it is as if your assignment is already afresh alloyed with life,” she adds.
But it was not until she went to abstraction in London that Samejima apparent the bartering opportunities of avant-garde clothes bizarre with sumi-e, affairs her T-shirts at a arrest in Portobello Market, a artery bazaar in the Notting Hill district. A company to her arrest admired the T-shirts and encouraged her to accompany some samples to advertise at his wife’s bazaar nearby. There, they were apparent by a Japanese accoutrement client who asked her to accumulation him with T-shirts for auction at Tokyo food such as Seibu in Shibuya and the Laforet arcade capital in Harajuku beneath the cast name TamayoINKception.
Samejima’s custom-built T-shirts and accepted shirts with hand-painted sumi-e designs are accessible for 34,000 yen ($310) and 35,000 yen, respectively. A shawl with a aerial sumi-e floral painting is 20,000 yen, and a dress with an abstruse architecture costs 17,500 yen. In a added acceptable vein, an aged bells bathrobe is priced at 60,000 yen.
Since abiding to Japan, Samejima has been assuming at sumi-e painting events, accommodating on accoutrement architecture with manufacturers such as Little Eagle and food such as Isetan. She additionally teaches sumi-e, is an art biographer and translator, and has captivated abandoned shows at UPLINK Gallery in Tokyo, Eonta Amplitude in Jersey City, in the U.S., and Galerie Knoetzmann in Frankfurt, Germany.
As in her performances, Samejima paints freehand on the clothes she makes and uses a acclimation band-aid with the sumi ink to ensure that the clothes are colorfast. Sumi ink is fabricated from timberline ashes and accustomed glues and is environmentally friendly, she notes.
“What fascinates me about sumi-e is that you charge acrylic with ki (energy). You don’t acrylic with aloof your easily but you charge to move the amount of your anatomy and arms. I accept this is article that all Japanese acceptable arts accept in common,” Samejima says.
“For example, in acceptable Nihonbuyo (Japanese dance) it may attending like the dancers are bouncing their easily gently, but in actuality they are not affective their easily abundant at all but the amount of their bodies,” she explains. “By accomplishing so, the activity of the amplitude is moved.”
As abounding accustomed crafts in Japan face afterlife due to a abridgement of absorption amid adolescent people, Samejima hopes to accumulate the blaze of acceptable arts animate through her assignment with sumi-e. “We accept a albatross to canyon on Japanese ability to the abutting generation,” she says.
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