1898 - 1973
The scroll depicts in very subtle colour and sensual, fluid lines a stylish young woman, wearing a grey evening dress and a blue jacket that slips casually over one side to bare the white skin of her shoulder. The willow branches hovering over her indicate that the scene takes place in the trendy Ginza district in Tokyo, where modern boys and modern girls loved to parade the streets to shop, eat, drink, or just to see and to be seen. The combination of a beauty below a willow tree illustrates the classical image of the 'willow-waisted' slender woman, who is as elegant yet pliable as the tree beside her. Beside cherry blossoms, willows were the emblems of courtesans, symbolizing their realm of transient pleasure. The combination of gentility and sexual innuendo imbues this painting with an underlying tension and enhances its significance in a time when the appearance of fashionable women in public aroused anxiety.
Japan in the early part of the 20th century was a place of great change and challenge, nowhere more evident than in the arts of the Taisho and early Showa eras from 1900 to 1930s. Western-oriented ideologues championed the avant-garde tastes from Europe and America. In turn, nativists sought an antidote to western materialism in the values of the Japanese past. The crucial question of the day was: how could one be both Japanese and modern at the same time when modernity was defined as Western? This dichotomy becomes most apparent in the image of women, as on the one hand we have the 'modern girls' type – 'modaan garu' or short 'moga' - who symbolises Westernised modernity, liberation from convention and sexual freedom, and on the other hand the 'Good wives – wise mothers' – 'ryosaikenbo' - who safeguard traditional values. The young woman depicted here epitomises the 'moga' type, she is self-confident and fashionable but at the same time seems to be isolated and lonely.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, October 2011.
Born in Tokyo, Chikatoshi became a student of Kaburagi Kiyokata in 1916. He exhibited together with Ito Shinsui, Yamakawa Shuho and other students of Kiyokata in 1918 and graduated from the Nihonga section of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko) in 1921. A year later, in 1922, his painting 'Trip' won an award in the fourth Teiten; subsequently he received many more awards and gained popularity for his paintings of modern beauties ('bijinga') in Japanese style. 'Girl in a Hammock' was shown in the eighth Teiten in 1927. 'Taking a Walk in the Garden' won the grand prize in the eleventh Teiten in 1929. He exhibited in Teiten and Shin Bunten throughout the 1930’s. In addition to showing his work at public exhibitions, he participated in Kiyokata's private Kyodokai and Ito Shinsui’s Seiginkai. During this era, the Kyodokai members were known for their avant garde style and Chikatoshi in particular was an artist with a reputation for such works. After the war he became a juror for Nitten exhibitions. In 1962 he was commissioned to paint murals for the Hotel Okura. Chikatoshi's work is well represented in the collection of the Meguro Gajoen Museum of Art.
Text provided by Patricia Salmon.
hanging scroll; ink and colour on silk
116.2 x 36.2 cm image; 189.0 x 52.4 cm mount
Signature & date
Signed: Chikatoshi; seal: Chikatoshi
Purchased with funds provided by Yasuko Myer 2011
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco:
- Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu 31 Jan 2002–15 Mar 2002
- The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, United States of America 20 Apr 2004–22 Jun 2004
- McNay Art Museum, United States of America 15 Mar 2005–04 Jun 2005
- Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, United States of America 13 Sep 2005–08 Jan 2006
- Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum May 2007–01 Jul 2007
- Amagasaki Cultural Center, Hyogo Prefecture 28 Jul 2007–26 Aug 2007
- Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan 08 Sep 2007–14 Oct 2007
- Onomichi City Museum of Art, Japan 20 Oct 2007–16 Dec 2007
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 22 May 2008–23 Aug 2008
Referenced in 1 publication
Taisho chic: Japanese modernity, nostalgia and deco, United States of America, 2003, 50. cat.no. 10