My late partner Takeo used to praise the works of contemporary Japanese artists. As far as the arcane world of Japanese sculpture, his favorite was Seibo Kitamura. Takeo said the someday the world would recognize Seibo’s talents and honor him with high acclaim.
It’s only natural that most of us are only acquainted with American and European artists. They are the main people touched upon by traditional art courses in North America and Europe. Also, many of Asia’s fine works were brought about by people who remain anonymous for either cultural or personal reasons.
But in his native homeland, Seibo Kitamura was considered to be a highly honored master of his art. Seibo Kitamura or 北村 西 望 Kitamura Seibō, was born on December 16, 1884 in Minamiarima, Nagaski prefecture.
Seibo attended the Kyoto City University of Arts from 1903 until 1907 and earned a sculpting degree. His post graduate studies and practice took place from 1907 to 1912 at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, earning another sculpting degree. He then served in the Japanese military until 1915. Seibo’s full time sculpting career began after his discharge. In 1921, he became a full professor at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.
Seibo obtained the commission, in an open contest, for his most internationally famous work after World War Two. He is the sculptor of the majestic Peace Statue located in Nagasaki. The Nagasaki Peace Park and the Peace Statue are at the hypocenter of the location of the infamous Plutonium bomb detonation on August 9, 1945.
The 9.7 metre tall bronze artwork symbolizes the universal desire for world peace. It also recognizes the human tragedy of war. The right hand of the image points upwards to the sky at the threat of the atom bomb. His left hand reaches out horizontally to symbolize peace. His right leg is tucked into a semi-lotus meditation position. The left foot is placed onto the ground as he is ready to stand and help the people. The eyes are lightly closed in contemplation of the enormous fate of the victims of war. The statue aroused considerable amounts of controversy when it was unveiled in 1955.
Seibo Kitamura earned several regional and national awards during his long lifetime. They include induction into the Japanese Art Academy and several other commissions. Seibo passed away on March 4, 1987 at the age of 102, in Tokyo.
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes you will also take some time to explore the world of Japanese art.