Kashima :
Thank you for taking some time off from your busy schedule. Could you tell us the preface of how you came across arts?
Fukutomi :
The trigger itself comes from memories of when I was just a young boy. I would say that experiences one sees and hears in their childhood, with a certain “nostalgia”, influences that person’s years to come. The psychological analysis of this basic concept is written in Muneyoshi Yanagi’s “Shu-shu monogatari”; that “nostalgia” from one’s childhood becomes the motive of collecting.
Kashima :
We will love to hear such a childhood episode of yours that led to your collecting of art.
Fukutomi :
My father is a true born Tokyoite. He loved enjoying drinking you know. One day when he was drinking at a restaurant in Fukagawa, there was an art exhibition; art association of Kokkan Odake, and being in December he had Genzo Akagaki painted and was exhilarated having a famous painter paint for him. Every December since, we hanged that piece. And my mother, she was fond of Kiyokata Kaburagi and possessed some of his pieces. Other than December we hanged Kiyokata. Those precious hanging scrolls of my parents were all burnt when I was fifteen; when the war was nearly at its end. During airborne attacks we just didn’t have time to carry them into the bomb shelter,,, After the war when I began waiting at a cabaret, I saved up and bought a Kiyokata in memory of those scrolls that were always hanging in our house.

image

Kashima :
How old were you at that time?
Fukutomi :
It was in 1947, when I was 19. Well, all of my friends thought me strange. Then I replaced them with better pieces and one day showed my collection to Mr.Kiyokata. Expressing his appraisal to many pieces especially pieces of Meiji and Taisho era, he was greatly moved and written his heart on the box.
Kashima :
Which of your Kiyokata collection are you most proud of?
Fukutomi :
I must say it is this “Usuyuki” (Light snowfall). I am fond of portraits that have stories, particularly lover’s suicide stories, associated with them. Speaking of pieces of lover’s suicide, the Tsunetomi Kitano I acquired from you is one of the best of my collections. I was fortunate to be able to acquire that piece, and truly thank Kashima-arts.

北野恒富

Kashima :
Speaking of pieces, I have brought one Tsunetomi’s that I wanted to show you.
Fukutomi :
This, oh, this is a fine piece. A kind of an Art Nouveau influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which I assume was created in the beginning of Showa when he was painting posters. What a fine piece this is. The realistic facial description is where the fascination lies.
Kashima :
Thank you.
Fukutomi :
Hmmmm... now that I think about it, I have been acquiring many pieces from you. There has been Seien Shima, and then Hisako Kajiwara's fom the Taisho period.
Kashima :
Yes there had been. I can see that your preference is in pieces of the Taisho Period Decadence, that hold an energy such as a banked fire within the decadent.
Fukutomi :
Generally yes, and in addition, I have a penchant for facial expressions that clearly express the characters internal struggle. Moreover, if it is a scene from a story, I cannot help but get drwan into the piece. The taste differs a bit though, I also treasure the "Kakushigizu"folding screen of Kokkan Odake. I acquired that from you as well. It is an elegant and rich poetical piece. And also since there was the regret of not being able to protect a piece, that my father acquired from Kokkan Odake, during the war you know.
Kashima :
From pieces acquired recently, which are the most memorable to you?
Fukutomi :
I was thrilled when I aquired Kyosai Kawanabe's "Yūrei-zu". I came about it at a book store market. first I hesitated, though after careful thought decided to bid for the piece. After winning the bid I do a research. Then it turned out that it was indeed an authentic piece. I was exhilarated. Even the British Museum approached me in wish to acquire it.
Kashima :
I can see how it is important in taking a leap of faith when it counts. As in closing to today's interview, will you kindly offer some advice to collectors that will follow in your steps?
Fukutomi :
Well, for example, in the same group of Tsunetomi Kitano who was the main topic today, there is Kayo Matsumoto. A long time ago a dealer brought in a beauty in the piece which character was tied in front of the foot of a cherry blossom tree. In a glance I sensed a near aura to Kiyokata's "Tamesaruruhi". I gave a titled the piece as "Bateren'oharu" and in wish to treasure it I searched for the artist. I found her in Osaka. I saw her picture and she was an incredibly beautiful woman. Though before being recognized she passed away. This is a fine piece. Even not being recognized , there are people who paint fine pieces. Finding thoses are the Key. It takes around 50 years after the artist passes away; that much time is needed for the surroundings to calm down and only then the true evaluation reveals. And also once you start collecting, it is important to narrow down your goal.
Kashima :
Hearing all kinds of stories today has been most instructive. Thank you so much for your time today.

*The dialogue was quoted from the second Bisai catalogue.

profile

Kashima Morio

  • Kasima Arts Co., Ltd.
  • Kashima Morio
  • Founded Kasima Arts Co., Ltd for an art dealing company in 1988. Also established a secondhand book store. As a mail-order business, he has published a catalogue “Ochiho”.

Fukutomi Taro

  • Fukutomi Taro
  • Born in Tokyo 1931. Have been collecting a vast number of paintings regardless of the genre, Japanese Paintings including Ukiyoe, western style paining, etc, for about 50 years. His collection is referred to as Taro Fukutomi collection. Also has published many books about collecting art.

Top of Page