The famous Japanese master HIGASHIYAMA Kaii (1908-1999) has generously donated more than 900 of his works (painting, studies, sketches, etc.) and several hundreds related books to Nagano Prefecture. To house and display these works the Higashiyama Kaii Gallery was built next to the Shinano Art Museum, and it opened in April of 1990.
The gallery holds paintings such as Vibrant Greens, Forest with a White Horse and Evening Quiet, and also series of sketches such as Landscape of Northern Europe, Four Seasons of Kyoto, Landscape with a White Horse and Spring and Autumn of Yamato.
There are also sketches and studies for the Nitten Exhibition and screen paintings for the Toshodaiji Temple which show his inspiration and the process of paintings. The exhibition is changed once every two months by theme, and you can enjoy the art of Master Higashiyama who says "Landscape is a mirror of one's soul."


Flowers Luminous at Night ①


A cascade of blossoms glows against the deep blue of Higashiyama at dusk-

This single drooping cherry tree gathers around it all the splendor of a Kyoto spring. Countless pale pink ornaments hang from its branches, but not a single blossom has yet fallen to the ground. The ridge of the hill has a certain brightness, and a large round moon is peeping from behind clouds, Rising silently in a sky of ancient `purple. The blossoms gaze up at the moon. The moon looks down at the blossoms. Is this a chance encounter? Or a symbol of life’s transience?


The Seasons and Kyoto

To any wanderer, chance encounters are the greatest joy. Indeedthey are his very existence. It was as a wanderer that I visited Kyoto, and my chance encounters there brought forth the following works. Among them are a few I just had to paint there and then; most, however, were painted after I had time to reflect on my impressions.

 If you succeed in capturing the subtlety of Kyoto's changing seasons, you will find that nothing quite compares to the elegant delicacy of its scenery. In few cities is the lifestyle of the inhabitants as intimately bound up with the seasons as in Kyoto. It is this closeness that has formed the essence of the Japanese sense of beauty since the distant past, both nurturing it and being manifest in it. Unfortunately, much of this lifestyle has now been lost.

 Contemplating nature in the different seasons in Kyoto has allowed me to experience many interesting things and has given me the joy of innumerable chance encounters. Thus, for me the city has become like a rich glossary of seasonal moods, and I hope to continue to appreciate Japan's natural beauty through Kyoto's seasons.




Green Resonance ②


Through the music of the string ensemble

Runs a piano's simple melody.


"Landscapes with a White Horse"

Once, when I was musing about the ideas behind several works I had produced that year, the melody from the second movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto in E (K.488) suddenly drifted into my mind-the part where the piano and the orchestra are having a sort of dialogue-and the figure of a lone white horse appeared briefly on the far shore of a lake, only to vanish among the dense green stands of conifers. I made a sketch of this vision, but no sooner had I done so than other scenes with a white horse in the distance came into my mind one after another. This was how the eighteen landscapes and sketches I produced that year came to be a series titled "Landscapes with a White Horse."

There are variations on this white horse, just like the solo instrument's variations on the main theme in a concerto. In this case, the orchestra's part in the dialogue is the landscape. Amid this setting the white horse walks, canters, and grazes. However, he never appears any bigger; I always see him from the quietness of distance. This white horse was a pleasant surprise, for I often exclude details from my pictures-an acknowledged characteristic of mine.

Where could this white horse have come from?

People often ask me what it represents, but I have to leave it up to the viewer himself. The white horse is undoubtedly a manifestation of some part of myself. Perhaps I could even say that it's a prayer from my heart.




Ripples ③


Finland's lovely Punkaharju region lies next to the Russian border.

The narrow crest of this hill was drawn like a curtain across the middle of the lake.

As the wind stirred the trees, the surface of the water glimmered in the fading light

And birds chattered.


Chance Encounters in Northern Europe

I left Copenhagen just as the bells of Easter were ringing out, and traveled through Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Then I returned to spend about a month in Copenhagen and its northern outskirts before returning to Japan at the end of July. How would I describe my travels? If I had to chose a single phrase, I think the most appropriate would be "a journey of chance encounters." what impressed me most on this Scandinavian trip was that I came to understand the quiet strength of life there, amid the workings of man and nature.

 As the year progresses, the days gradually lengthen, bringing nights of brightness. The forests and lakes acquire a subdued beauty, and seem to be singing a paean to life. The people, too, share in this joy and take every opportunity to bask in the sunshine.

 I felt in complete harmony with the passionate sense of life bursting forth in these northern lands during the brief spring and summer.



Radiant White Night ④


Dense conifer forests divide the lake into parallel swathes.

The forests are pitch black; the sky and water, a smoky silver hue.

It is a midsummer's night, when the sun only dips below the horizon for the briefest time.

I am drawn into a world of mystery.




Two Moons ⑤


It was a beautiful bright night

When stillness and serenity floated over everything.

There were two moons-one in the sky, the other on the water.

The light was clear and gentle

Excerpted from K. Higashiyama "Shorewood Fine Art Books 1995" by Ms. Yoko Ito of Higashiyama Art Gallery, October 25, 2007.