富永 祥烟(1929-)

Shoen TOMINAGA

Tominaga Shoen was born in 1929 in Nagoya, Aichi, and aspired to be a calligrapher from an early age, avidly studying the ancient and modern calligraphy of China and Japan.

 

The action painting of Jackson Pollock began to be shown in Japan in the late 1940s after World War II, and had an impact on the teenage Tominaga. In 1951, when he was 22 and had begun producing avant-garde calligraphy, a turning point came with the formation of Bokujin-kai (lit. “Ink Man Group”) by Inoue Yuichi, Morita Shiryu and others. Morita, already a friend of Tominaga’s, visited Nagoya and invited the young calligrapher, whose works were already earning acclaim, to join the group. Tominaga became a Nagoya-based contributor to the group’s journal Bokujin, a trailblazing presence in Japanese avant-garde calligraphy.

 

Tominaga’s keenly insightful and dynamic works were published in Bokujin beginning around 1952. In the journal at that time, contributing artists were treated as equals, and often critiqued one another’s works in its pages. Tominaga paid close attention to the work of Inoue Yuichi, a daring calligrapher gaining considerable renown around this time, and Tominaga later recalled that as the group’s youngest member, he strove to stay abreast with senior members and was constantly pursuing new avenues of expression.

 

Tominaga also took part in the Genbi (Contemporary Art) Exhibition in Osaka in 1955, during which he associated with and was profoundly influenced by members of the Gutai Art Association like Yoshihara Jiro, Shiraga Kazuo, and Motonaga Sadamasa, as well as the Neo Calligraphy Exhibition held in San Francisco in 1956. Around the same time, Tominaga encountered the ideas of Isamu Noguchi, Hasegawa Saburo, and the philosopher Hisamatsu Shinichi, which he cited as being very important to him.

 

In this way, from the 1950s onward Tominaga engaged with a wide range of people, limited neither to the calligraphy world nor to Japan, all of which played significant roles in his development.

 

Tominaga came to feel that many of the Bokujin-kai members were too strongly influenced by Inoue Yuichi and Morita Shiryu, and he resigned from the group around 1957. Thereafter he worked an ordinary corporate day job and did not belong to any particular calligraphy organization, but his work was increasingly lauded and he began exhibiting at galleries in Nagoya, Tokyo, and New York.

 

From the 1950s Bokujin era onward, Tominaga had adopted unconventional approaches such as wiping with enamel, cement, or primer as well as working with sumi ink, and at times drawing with matchsticks or skewers. Around 1985, separately from his work with ink, the artist began producing sculptures made by shaping and welding stainless steel by hand, and collages and mixed media works incorporating ink and crayon. He has said that to him these works, which appear on the surface unrelated to text-based calligraphy, are the same in that they involve expression of space through line. During this period Tominaga explored a range of new artistic approaches, creating painting-like works as well as textual calligraphy and copies after other calligraphic works. However, for the artist, collage and painting were always linked with his vision for calligraphy in ink, and pursuing both side by side enabled him to find fulfillment and arrive at his own truly distinctive style.

 

The artist has gradually exhibited less since the 1990s, but he continues creating energetically, and since a solo show in 2015 at the age of 86, has returned to working primarily with sumi ink. He produces these pieces by spending days and days forming an image in his mind, then swiftly executing it all in one go. Characterized by spaces with an exquisite balance of black and white achieved through extraordinary compositional ability and brushwork, in terms of technical approach they are the closest he has come over his long career to replicating the style perfected alongside his Bokujin-kai comrades in the 1950s, but at the same time they incorporate his decades of artistic experimentation and emanate a stunningly vivid originality.

 

Tominaga has frequently said, “The things one has made thus far quickly become old hat. I am always trying to create something new, glowing, and passionate, not weighted down with anything extraneous.” The painter he admires most is Pablo Picasso, and for many years a photo of Picasso with a piercing gaze has hung in his bedroom. At the age of 89, Tominaga begins each morning by looking at Picasso’s face in the photo and internalizing that passionate intensity, which he pours into his work. Tominaga Shoen’s quest for the ultimate space composed of white paper and black ink continues today.

 

1929年名古屋に生まれた富永祥烟は、早くから書を志し、古今の書画を研究する。10代にあたる1940年代後半に、ジャクソン・ポロックのアクションペインティングが日本に紹介されるとこれにいち早く影響を受け、前衛芸術へ傾倒していく。

そして1951年、森田子龍、井上有一ら当時の前衛書道の先駆けともいえるメンバーが集い墨人会を結成、機関誌「墨人」が創刊されると、若干22歳だった富永は森田の誘いにより、創刊時よりこれに参加、エナメルなどを使った抽象的な作品を発表していく。殊に井上有一の制作姿勢には、晩年に至るまで大きな思想的影響を受けている。また1955年には、大阪で行われた現美展に参加、出品して、吉原治良、元永定正ら後の具体美術のメンバーらと交流し、影響を受けている。他にもイサム・ノグチ、長谷川三郎ら様々な文化人たちと積極的に交流し薫陶を受けながら、1950年代より日本各地の書展やカリフォルニアで行われた現代書展などに出品し、70年代以降は名古屋、東京、ニューヨークなどで展覧会を行う。一方で、書家としても名古屋を拠点とし継続して活躍している。

その作風は、1950年代には墨、エナメル、ボンドなどを使った抽象作品であった。並行して1970年ごろよりステンレスを自ら造形し溶接した立体作品を発表、また墨やパステルを使った細密な絵画作品も80年代以降継続して制作され、現在はそれらの要素を元にした書(デッサン)の作品へと回帰している。作家活動60余年の間に作風は何度も大きく変わっているが、その根底には自らの源流である書に由来する筆の動きの圧倒的な技術と集中力、墨人会など様々な交流により育まれた美術に対する意識と創作に対するたゆまぬ情熱、そして余分なものをそぎ落としていこうとする思想が共通して介在している。

常に今の時代に自分が何を作るべきかを追求しており、自己模倣に陥ることを嫌う富永祥烟は、2015年に行われた約20年ぶりとなる個展で、20代の頃に一度作品化し、書の原点と自ら位置づける古代の甲骨文字に想を得たオリジナル作品を発表、21世紀における墨による表現の新しい可能性を示した。その後も作品は変化を続け、今も、戦後の前衛美術運動を知りその思想を実践し続ける世代として、精力的に制作を続けている。

Exhibition/SHUMOKU GALLERY

2015年 墨象 Katadoru

2017年 墨象 Katadoru

ART FAIR

2017年 ART FAIR TOKYO

2017年 LA ART SHOW