|SAKUE GLOSSARY Sakue Omori’s A to Z Glossary|
I decided to be an artist when I was 12. I’ve always been painting or drawing since that time. Suddenly,
I find that I’m 80.
Sake (Japanese rice wine) flows in my veins.
湖A Lake A 1961
Mr. Tatsuo Arai, a significant influence, was my senior at Jiyu Bijutsu ( Jiyu Bijutsu Art Association)
and a founding member of the Modern Art Association. After being
disowned by my parents for wanting to become an artist, I went to Tokyo, where I made a living working
part-time. I had no money for either school or painting tools. My parents wrote to say I should return home.
One day, I called on Mr. Arai, who I first met after being accepted for the Jiyu Bijutsu exhibition. He told
me to follow through on my intentions, no matter what the cost. He asked if I wanted to grab a meal with
him and took me out into a field. We picked wild herbs. I was poor, but I’d never done anything like that.
I was impressed. He cooked porridge with the wild herbs. It tasted wonderful!
|Between abstraction and embodiment
Let’s say you have two painting styles, abstract and representational. You could say my paintings swing
back and forth between those styles like a clock pendulum. That’s how I work.
I put all the colors I’ll use during the day on my palette. I throw out any leftovers in the evening.
It’s a waste, I know, but I want to use a different set of colors every day. In the old days, there were times
when I had to paint pictures using just white, black, and brown, because that’s all I could afford.
島 Island 1964 陸 Land 1965
After seeing my works, people tend to assume they’re based on some difficult compositional theory.
For me, composition isn’t about some specific theory?it’s about arranging things in the proper way
on the canvas.
|Drawing and painting
No matter who you are, as long as you’re alive, you’re bound to have something you want to express.
Drawing or painting pictures is nothing more than confirming this distinctive thing that’s different from
person to person. But this kind of affirmation, no matter how many pictures you draw or paint, isn’t easy
to come by. The important thing is always trying to peer deep into your soul while drawing or painting.
In early December 1941, when I was 22 years old, I held my first solo exhibition on the third floor of the
Ikedaya Department Store in Takamatsu. I exhibited twenty of my oil paintings. Chuta Kimura, who returned
to Takamatsu saying he’d quit painting for at least 25 years, appeared at the venue and declared he’d
resume painting. Two days later, he left for Tokyo with his chin up.
I moved to Fuchu after getting married in 1955. It was a dark walk from JR Chuo Line Kokubunji Station,
but the air smelled sweet in those days.
I graduated from Japan Art School, technically, but I only went there for three months or so. I came to
Tokyo without financial support from my parents. I couldn’t afford tuition after a while. Somehow I
managed to achieve some success as a painter, and Principal Yasuhiro Tanaka granted special approval
for my graduation. That’s why I’m considered a graduate.
Mr. Hijikta, who often reviewed my paintings, came to the office of the Kodo Bijutsu Kyokai (Kodo Bijutsu
Japan) exhibition. "Omori Sakue has joined Kodo Bijutsu!" he said happily. He was fanning himself with a
Japanese fan. At that time, it wasn’t very cool in the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum.
The K in Mr. K’s prize stands for Kamakura, so I visited him at the modern art museum in Kamakura after
winning the prize.
'60海峡 Channel '60 1960 陸 Land 1962
Mr. Genichiro Inokuma, my senior, came from my same hometown.
He was a judge when I won a prize at a Kagawa prefectural exhibition.
After arriving in Tokyo, I went to visit him, along with Chuta, Kimura. The last time I saw Mr. Inokuma was
when I went to his solo exhibition at Mikimoto Hall. I remember he grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go.
I couldn’t go to the Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum on its opening day.
When I visited the museum later, I took this picture, thinking to send a letter to tell him that I came here.
But he’s gone in last month.
1993.5 At the Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum
|Just as a painter
I do what I need to do as a painter.
I try not to have a finger in each pie. If I don’t paint pictures for a day,
I’m one day behind everyone else.
|K-shi award (Mr.) K’s prize I didn’t start making a living painting until I won this prize in 1960.
Chuta Kimura (1917-1987) was a close friend from the time I was in Takamatsu. We continued to meet
often, even after we moved to Tokyo. Together, we went to see a self-portrait of Shunsuke Matsumoto at
the Nika Art Association in 1942.
Both of us liked it.We exchanged letters from time to time when he moved to
France. When I traveled to Paris, I met him for the first time in more than ten years. He was a man of
strong likes and dislikes, but we got along famously.
A card from Chuta Kimura
Kodo Bijutu(Kodo Bijutsu Japan)
I exhibited my work at the Kodo Bijutsu Kyokai exhibition in 1958
and became a member of the association the following year.
I liked the free and informal atmosphere there, so I remained a member for a long time.
When I fell ill in 1999, though, I left the association without a moment’s thought.
絶端 End off of the edge 1971
|Life The life of an artist is like the wandering life of a gambler. Given that, I think I’ve done a decent job.
Light I don’t paint pictures on days when it’s not bright enough. Or on days when my tooth hurts.
Among the four paintings I sent to Jiyu Bijutsuka Kyokai exhibition,
only two were accepted. I stormed into the association’s office, where I found Mr. Mori. I demanded that
he accept all my paintings, because all were worthy. Mr. Mori refused?the screening was over.
"In that case," I said, "I’ll take all of them home with me."
"You can’t do that," he said. Round and round we went.
I ended up leaving behind the two that had been accepted. Shaking with anger, and with tears in his eyes,
Mr. Mori said, "Mr. Omori, I will never, ever forget you!"
Well, I was wrong, too, I have to admit. And now? We’re on good terms.
Musashino Art University At age 60, I was unexpectedly asked to start teaching at this art
university. But if I went there two days a week, I’d have no time for painting.
When I turned down the offer,they said teaching even one day per week would be all right?
an exception permitted by the Cultural Affairs Agency.
I was also told Mr. Yoshio Mori had recommended me when he retired from this university.
So I accepted the offer. I received what’s known as "a starting salary" for the first time in my life.
The more recent the fashion, the faster it’s gone. You know what I mean?
In 1933, when I was fourteen, I went to this museum by myself, taking a boat from Takamatsu.
Everyone around me had been talking about an interesting new museum. I looked for someone who’d
actually gone there, but no one had?not my art teacher or any of the adults around me.
That’s why I decided to visit. I asked my mother to make onigiri (rice balls) to take with me.
There was a neat row of straw sandals at the entrance of the museum. The janitor made tea for me,
and I saw real oil paintings for the first time in my life?so many, all in the same place!
1990.10.3 At Kurashiki Sketch in visiting to Europe
A student in the oil painting department came to me for career guidance. "Professor Omori, do you know
where I can find a job?" he asked. I was so surprised I had to ask him, "Wait?didn’t you want to become
|Runaway to Tokyo
I wanted to be an artist, against my family’s objections. If I wanted to study painting, I thought to myself,
I need to go to Tokyo. I ran away from home when I was 17. After many days of traveling, I finally
reached a relative’s house in Tokyo, where I was greeted with an angry shout, "Hey, you truant!"
They’d been informed of my disappearance from home.
When I returned home, my father said to me, "Do you really want to be an artist? I’ll let you do what you
want, but I won’t support you, because I’m not sure you have the talent." He died when I was 21.
In his last moments, he asked me if I would be all right. I said "I’ll be all right." He died soon after.
I moved to Takamatsu when I was three and often amused myself by visiting Shodoshima Island. In 1953,
I went there for a sketching excursion. On the way, I met a group of people shooting "Nijushi no Hitomi"
("Twenty-four Eyes"), a film based on a story set in the island. Kankakei gorge, Ginpaura coast?
so many beautiful places with dramatic views! I like dramatic things.
1993.5 At Tonoshouchou in the Shoudoshima-Island
Sesami Oil When I was a kid, I read that oil paintings are made with vegetable oils. So I painted a
picture using sesame oil from the kitchen as a solvent. The painting took half a year to dry.
That’s how I learned different oils dry at different rates.
I taught drawing and painting at Tomonkai, the art club formed by the graduates of Hosei University.
They invited me to replace Mr. Tadao Tanaka of Kodo Bijutsu, who was moving to Europe.
In my opinion, for a painter, a canvas is a universe mirroring his mind and soul. Even if it’s small, it’s a
universe for the painter himself. Colors, dots, lines, surfaces, and materials?the words making up the
language of visual expression?are "stars," in my view. The balance among these stars forms a universe.
Creates a universe. Through their interactions, the stars have to find their own permanent places.
Otherwise, the universe collapses. (Oct. 1988)
| 上流 Upstream 1970
|Vermeer I like Vermeer. He’s one of the world’s treasures. I have a book of his paintings.
Do you want to see it?
Value Things many people consider wonderful or valuable are often boring, while things people never
pay attention to can be amazing.
I received draft cards three times. The notice of Japan’s defeat in the war came 10 days late to
Sumatra Island. Everything was over and, for a moment, everything went blank.Maybe I wouldn’t be able to
paint any more if I was taken prisoner. Besides, we had been told to commitsuicide rather than being
taken captive. That’s why I attempted hara-kiri, ritual suicide by disembowelment.
One of my fellow soldiers, who came outside to urinate, noticed something in the distance that looked
like a crouching man. That’s Omori! Fortunately, I was found early. If I had died then, my life would have
been so worthless.
I’ve been x-rayed numerous times. For example, when I got drunk, fell, and hit my head.
X-rayed photographs of his pictures
| 市邑 Cityscape 1992
He is my senior both at Jiyu Bijutsuka Kyokai and the Modern Art Association.
When I ran into him at Ueno Park, he said he was teaching there (at Tokyo National University of Fine
Arts and Music) and showed me around the university.
|ZaYuNoMei (Words to live by)
Make haste slowly?at a leisurely pace.
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