Column
The development of Shinzokei (New Modeling) and a new museum
(Insho's move into abstract art, and his late career)
"Daily Life", exhibited at The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition (Nitten) in 1955, was an abstract painting of geometric forms. From this initial foray into abstract expressionism, Insho continued to work in this style for the rest of the decade, producing dynamic abstract work which combined color with the sweeping strokes of sumi (Chinese ink painting).

Insho's philosophy was that a true tradition should be created by the pursuit of innovation and by breaking older traditions. His work, based on this view, resulted in unique abstract expression using Japanese painting materials sumi and iwaenogu (mineral pigments), for which Insho coined the term "Shinzokei".


"Daily Life" 1955

At the time, Art Informel was the dominant art practice in Europe. "Informel", indicating a style of improvised formlessness, was an avant-garde movement spurred by art critic Michel Tapié in France in the 1950s. Tapié regarded Insho as an adventurous avant-garde artist, experimenting with new and different practices while retaining elements of Japanese tradition, and invited insho to hold a solo show in Italy. In May 1961, Insho's major exhibition of around 50 works, including "Wind God" and "Thunder God", was organized by The Torino Artist Association. Insho's unique style, using Japanese native materials attracted a great deal of attention outside Japan.

"Wind God" 1961

Thus, Insho succeeded in creating his own decorative abstract style by combining compositions and colors. In the same year, he was awarded "The Order of Cultural Merit" as a Person of Cultural Merit. In the 4th Japan Fine Arts Exhibition (ShinNitten) of the same year, he exhibited "Symphony", which is considered one of his greatest works of abstract painting using Japanese painting materials, a synthesis he had long persevered with.
"Symphony" 1961

In October 1966, Insho opened the Domoto Museum next to his house in Kinugasa. The entire building, from exterior to interior, from doorknobs to light fixtures, was designed by him, personally. His aim was to develop his own unique aesthetic for the building, while referring to the design of museums in palaces and mansions he had seen in Europe. The Domoto Museum can be considered a major constituent in Insho's body of work, which includes not only "Nihonga (Japanese-style painting)" but also sculpture, ceramics, glassware, objects made in gold, and dyed textiles.


The Domoto Museum
in the early days after the opening
around 1966

From around 1968, figurative motifs returned to his work. In 1975, he painted "Zendo, great Teacher of Buddhism" while he was an in-patient in hospital. "Great Teacher" Zendo is a renowned Chinese 7th century Buddhist monk. This painting was his last work.

"Zendo, great Teacher of Buddhism" 1975


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