The Chrysanthemum & The Sword

130615123651A master of traditional of Japanese painting, Hiroomi Ito belongs to a small group of Japanese artists who produce not only their own pigments but the rice paper upon which the artwork is painted on as well.

In his first solo show, Ito examines the schism of the present-day Japanese psyche; refusal to accept one’s cultural heritage; and whether the fusion between traditional and modern has indeed resulted in a loss of “….the pride of being Japanese”.

The first impression of Ito’s work is that of classical painting. The artist employs materials and techniques reminiscent of the style of ancient Japan. Ito’s subject matter, however, is in fact quite contemporary ; the artist looks at modern society’s erosion of the family structure -the backbone of Japanese culture- along with the pride associated with belonging to an old culture.

In his series “Unlimited Desire”, Ito uses symbolism in his compositions. Inspired by European 15th century still life paintings, Ito depicts dishes typically found in Asia, as a reference to both devotional and secular images. The paintings communicate the family head – or “lord of the home”-  as an individual who is healthy, wealthy, and possesses the strength to protect the family from ill environmental influences.

The gold represents the wealth of the owner, or “master of the home”. The steam generated by the cooking fire, signifies the passion for life, and  the strength to deliver “food on the table” – to provide well for the home. The choice of seafood symbolically demonstrates how the “master” has taste and is well educated, with the ability to make wise choices on behalf of the family.

Born in Japan, Hiroomi Ito now lives and works in Barcelona, Spain.

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