Fighting Spirit

©TENMYOUYA Hisashi Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery

Hisashi Tenmyouya
Fighting Spirit
152.0 x 300.0 cm
acrylic, wood, black gesso, gold brocade
photo: MIYAJIMA Kei

Hisashi TENMYOUYA is known for the hybridity of traditional and contemporary motifs, as well as the eccentricity and whimsicality in his work. It won’t be surprising if samurai and cyborgs fight together or Gundam comes in as the main character of a gold folding screen. The masterful painting style inherits the meticulosity of classical Japanese painting as well as the heterodoxy aesthetics, notably that of Basara in the Nanboku-chō period and flamboyant Kabukimono between the end of Muromachi and the beginning of Edo period.

This 3-meter-wide work Fighting Spirit depicts a fantastical scene of a tattooed samurai being besieged by a group of modern-looking men armed in traditional style with fierce beasts. Not shy about nudity, the figures are depicted with expressive masculinity whereas it is the beasts that are clad in armor and decoration. Most of the periphery of the deliberately composed painting is filled with the troop and the clouds of dust they bring, while negative space in black is left around the main character and in the lower right corner as his line of retreat. Although he is standing with his back to the audience, it is clear that his valiancy goes without saying.

In 2008, a solo exhibition of the same name was held at Mizuma Art Gallery.

(Commentary: Zhang Yangyu / Translation: Anna Kato)