Sōtatsu: Making Waves


BambooFukuda Heihachirō trained in Kyoto under the renowned Takeuchi Seihō (1864–1942) and other prominent painters. He was deeply committed to realism, particularly in the 1910s and 1920s. In later years, still sketching from real life, he moved to a flattened, pure-form decorative style. He acknowledged that his concepts were inspired by the masters, Sōtatsu and Kōrin.

Bamboo depicts the meticulous, small differences among a group of six bamboo plants and shoots. It has a simple and direct composition, with the plants lined up in a straight row. Its origins lie in Sōtatsu’s designs for poetry scrolls and other works.

A few years after he created this work, Heihachirō challenged the long-standing convention of painting bamboo in green pigment, saying that it “has no meaning because it is simple tradition, repeated dutifully without introspection or consideration. Even now, I have never … [seen] verdigris in bamboo.”

Fukuda Heihachirō (1892–1974)
Japan, 1942
Color on silk
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, J00101

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