About Permanent Collection

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  • ※The texts below is written by Yutaka Sugimura in November 2017. Yutaka says “this commentary is only my personal point of view as Jun Sugimura’s son. This is based on his understanding about the still life painter’s works. My perspective may be different from my father’s. I understand that everyone has a different perspective and that each person will enjoy these works in their own way. I hope these comments can help people who have difficulty in understanding enjoy Sugimura’s works – in order to understand them.”
コレクション
  • Title: Mahanashijima yori (From Mahanashijima Island)
  • Year: 1950 (Age 43)
  • Size: F8 (455 x 380mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
Looking at Katsurashima Island through the lens of neighbouring Mahanashijima Island, he created a variety of atmospheres which feature Matsushima Bay. A lot of islands in this work look like the shadows and silhouettes of traditional temples scattered under the summer sunshine of Tohoku. He emphasized the white ocean waves against the rocks as a key point. In addition, to make his work stand out among many existing works about the Matsushima coastline, he focused on working on his own painting style to wonderfully express the raw scenic beauty of the islands. This painting is considered to be his first work in expressing his emotional ambience as an artist who continued to acquire more experience in his career.
コレクション
  • Title: Sakana (Fish)
  • Year: 1963 (Age 56)
  • Size: F6 (410×318mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
Measured as an F6-type painting (41 cm x 38.1 cm), this work features a detailed layout. By using sophisticated painting techniques to play with space, one focal point is how the heads of the fish are aligned in a circular path. This is done in order for the audience to veer their attention towards the fishes’ visually attractive scales.
As seen in this work, Sugimura’s way of combining the detailed composition of everyday items and the way they are drawn concretely with finesse is considered to be one of this signature styles.
For instance, a pair of contrasts can be seen between the fantasy-like fish and the realistic illusion of the table behind it.
コレクション
  • Title: Tara (Cod)
  • Year: 1954 (Age 47)
  • Size: F50 (1,167×910mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 40th Kofukai Art Exhibition
This is an ambitious work composed boldly only with the basket and cod on a large F50-sized (116.7 cm x 91 cm) canvas.
He used his ingenuity in constitutive composition while he was conscious of the worldwide movement to “new representational/figurative painting” of those days.
However, I heard Sugimura said to himself that this work had gained a good reputation at the exhibition venue in Tokyo, where food was still in short supply, among his painter friends not because of the abstract screen composition but of the figurative expression of the cod’s bodies bursting with fish eggs.
The yellow colour used on the desk seems out of place, but the basket’s image of distorted threads gives off a more genuine feel.
コレクション
  • Title: Kuroi Ami (Black Net)
  • Year: 1959 (Age 52)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Meidum: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the reorganized 2nd Nitten
This work is composed of a collection of brushstrokes that are unique and distinctly associated with Jun Sugimuras way of painting. It can be also said that this style may have been inherited from his grandmother, and also influenced by various well known contemporaries of his time.
His maternal grandfather, Kanko Inuzuka (1838-1913), specialized at painting, calligraphy, and sculpture. These skills were passed on to her students as she taught at Shōnai Domain based school in the Edo Period. Sugimura also incorporated the styles of French painter, Bernard Buffet, who specialized in outlined and monotoned expressions in his paintings.
By 1881, he also learned pencil drawing and oil painting under oil painting pioneer Yuichi Takahashi, and was also influenced by his time learning the ways of archaeology where he tried to reproduce the images of earthen vessels and figurines on paper. I have seen how he concentrated in the very small detail of his work, from the way he exerts effort in breathing to the way he inherited his grandmas skill of painting serene brushstrokes.
コレクション
  • Title: Kowareta Furui Rappa (Broken Old Trumpet)
  • Year: 1978 (Age 72)
  • Size: F50 (1,167×910mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the Nichiyou Summer Exhibition
Showcasing still objects all made of metal together such as the old lamp, the black clarinet, the old clock, the abandoned big red lantern of the ship, and the broken trumpet, he pursued for the texture and the existence of each item. The layout is made to be simple by keeping balance of the heaviness on the right side of the portrait with the group of clocks and walnuts on the left. However, this F50-sized (116.7 cm x 91 cm) canvas is full of movement by revealing distances between each object, in which we can see that he tried to reveal the individual existence of each item and faithfully depict them as is.
コレクション
  • Title: Sabita Seiyou Nokogiri (Rusty European Saw)
  • Year: 1979 (Age 73)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the Nichiyou Summer Exhibition
In this work, Sugimura tried to make something that is perceived to be artificial and technical to look and feel as natural as possible.
At first, he placed the flat saw, the hammer and the inkpot on the white cloth and using a white lantern as a supporting figure. In addition, the ceramic beer mug and the mask bring colour and life to the canvas.
Furthermore, people can experience a realistic three-dimensional feeling on the canvas by placing the black lantern and the glass desk lamp. Putting things in a unique order are a challenge for a still life artist like Sugimura, but he was able to manipulate the positions in a way that it feels natural and easy on the eyes.
コレクション
  • Title: Nonoshima – Yanaginohama yori Gaiyou wo Nozomu (Nonoshima Island – Ocean View from Yanaginohama Beach)
  • Year: 1950 (Age 43)
  • Size: P15 (652×500mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
In this painting, he expressed a complex composition. Starting with a distant view of the open sea backed up with the composition of rice fields filled with water which reflect the sky. This, combined with the tranquil surface of the sea and islands’ shadows of Matsushima, and with a thin horizon between the sea and a pallid sky.
In spite of what may seem to be wide variety of motifs, he painted the calm islands’ autumn scenery poetically.
Influenced by realistic oil painting style of an oil painter Yuichi Takahashi, Sugimura accurately depicted in every detail to the tip of a twig. For many locals who have seen this before in real life, it makes them shed into tears knowing that this illusion from the past no longer exists.
コレクション
  • Title: Shiroi Kasa no Ranpu (Lamp with a White Shade)
  • Year: 1990 (Age 82)
  • Size: P100 (1,620×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 22nd Nitten
In his small works, the vibrant composition of the different colours appeared early in his painting career. Also, later in his 70s, the colours became richer and brilliant in his large-scale works.
The unique colours harmoniously exist in this painting. For example, the various reds such as the pink of the desk lamp, the red and purple of the tablecloth, the reddish brown seen on the pipe, and the red paint on the mask.
Furthermore, red is also used for the surface of the lantern and the guitar. There is also a reddish brown shadow on the edge of the desk and on the wall behind it. The solid black lantern on the right and the blue coffee pot both bring calmness to this colourful painting.
In this meticulously crafted composition, fresh and vibrant colours emerge out from the quiet colour tones by this painter who had reached his stage of maturity.
コレクション
  • Title: Kiiroi Chikyugi (Yellow Globe)
  • Year: 1979 (Age 72)
  • Size: F100 (1,620×1,300mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 11th Nitten
Using a marionette is an interesting and unique choice for Sugimura to use among his contemporaries. He created the marionette by himself used it as a motif, adding life to what would be a monotonous composition.
I believe that my father used the marionette as if it was a human figure. My mother said that he owned thousands of sketches of women. Sketches which he practised by himself before the war. He also took pride as a portrait painter. This was due to his teacher’s influence – Manjiro Terauchi, a member of the Japan Art Academy.
The white teapot, the blue lamp, the black lantern, the monochrome book of paintings, the yellow globe, the pipe holder on the wall, and the Lautrec’s poster are fine-composed, however, he painted them with firmness, giving this canvas a powerful and tense atmosphere.
コレクション
  • Title: Ranpu no Seibutsu (Still Life with Lamps)
  • Year: 1964 (Age 57)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 7th Nitten
Sugimura’s typical painting style of using thick lines isn’t seen in this work, As for detailed composition, glass motifs such as the transparent lamp chimneys and the liquor bottles are placed closely together. He also placed the white hanging lantern on the left, the black coffee mill, and the pansy slightly off-center to the right, in order to spice up the composition of mixed various glass motifs.
His strong and concrete expression for the curved line of the black coffee mill handle effectively gives a sense of intensity into each motif and a blend of colours which give rhythm and life to this canvas. It is mostly evident with the charred portion of a candlewick, enabling it to give this painting a finishing touch.
コレクション
  • Title: Mekishiko no Tori (Bird from Mexico)
  • Year: 1969 (Age 62)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the reorganized 1st Nitten
His exquisite painting skill can be seen in showing the contrast of these motifs, and in the way he makes these motifs beautiful. For instance, the connection between the rust on the starboard light surface on the left and the red colour of the glass; and the black lantern on the right and the blurred printed label on the whisky bottle.
Although the image of the desk can be considered to be in a messy and disorderly state, the desk is seen in a happy and dynamic setting. We can see it from opening the door of the black lantern. And showing the wall at the back of the desk – towards the direction of the coffee can on the left. And to the black lantern on the right.
All of these factors mention show and prove why he is worthy of being called a still life artist.
コレクション
  • Title: Sankaku Dokei no aru Seibutsu (Still Life with a Triangle Clock)
  • Year: 1963 (Age 56)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 6th Nitten
Between the heavy old clock placed on the white tablecloth on the left and the gold-patterned pitcher towards the table’s corner, this is a composition in which a baguette loaf is placed diagonally beside the oil-stained lamp holder, together with a serving bowl filled with with walnuts, and the white bowl for sweets side by side.
To depict the room’s depth (estimated at 3 meters wide and 2 meters long) within the painting, Sugimura also paid close attention to the wall’s details. In this work, he wants to showcase the textures of the items illustrated in the style of realism, a painting technique that Sugimura specializes in.
コレクション
  • Title: Futatsu no Darin (Two Steering Wheels)
  • Year: 1955 (Age 48)
  • Size: F100 (1,620×1,300mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 11th Nitten
The portrait is composed of these: the black pitcher, the lamp, the white lantern, and also their respective shadows on the wall and on the floor. Together, these items are mindlessly arranged in front of the two broken steering wheels. It seems that this portrait is considered to be avant-garde in nature, as the portrait refrains itself from creating outlines and colours.
However, the portrait stands out as a figurative piece: first, a pair of fish hanging down from the steering wheel, as well as the black pot’s handle on the left side of this painting facing forward, and the beautiful oil-stained lamp. In addition to all of these, Sugimura gathered the colours in the yellow of the white lantern’s glass, and with the brightness of the shadow’s realness on the wall and floor.
This powerful figurative painting remains faithful to the real objects, as Sugimura said in his later years of his life, “My paintings were always consistent.”
コレクション
  • Title: Terakotta no aru Tsukue (Desk with Terra Cotta Doll)
  • Year: 1974 (Age 67)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 9th Nitten
Although there is a difference in materials, every motif is alike in both texture, and volume. For instance, the thick pot and the terracotta doll made of clay on the white cloth, the rugged lantern and the base of the lamp both made of iron, and the faceted glass with Chinese dates inside.
This solid work gives us the impression that the screen is composed of and controlled by these motifs. Done through trial and error, Sugimura painted it to the end. To depict figures as they are in that state is what he focused on, and it reminds us that our eyes, which react to light, could act originally as “tactile body organs”.
Because of that, he boasted that he had been considering the substance in the way he does his compositions.
The simple composition in this work consists only of his concrete painting skill. However, this style also contains unique visual techniques seen in the lamp adjustment screw on the right.
コレクション
  • Title: Yaita Sakana (Grilled Fish)
  • Year: 1962 (Age 55)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 48th Kofukai Art Exhibition
By using thick outlines in his painting, I believe he wanted to emphasize the random and various objects on the desk. He precisely depicted not only the fragrant smell from the surface of the well-grilled fish but also its hot mellowness inside, as well as the soft texture of the white bread.
Among the items seen, he showcased a wide variety of textures of objects – from the butter tray with the metal lid, the glass with the Chinese dates inside, the seasoning containers, the liquor bottles with their labels, the grilled fish on the white dish, the heavy aluminum pot through the sliced bread in the clear glass deep dish – all in front of the wall with the state of being out-of-the ordinary atmosphere without emphasizing too much his usually powerful touch.
This work shows us that he depicted figures as they were and also their textures – and reminds us that his teacher, Manjiro Terauchi, a Japan Art Academy member, taught him – as his teachers female nude paintings were was also famous for the beautiful skin textures.
コレクション
  • Title: Shiroi Tsukue no Seibutsu (Still Like on White Desk)
  • Year: 1964 (Age 57)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 50th Kofukai Art Exhibition
The cubism taste composition in this work is seen by putting square and round objects vertically on the vertical white desk, and in front of the grey wall, which is also likened to the vertical canvas.
It could be a difficult composition to call it a still life painting, but his painting skill and eye for accuracy and detail made this work as if it was a legitimate one. The white front area with the exquisite size of the desk corresponds to the colours such as black of the old coffee mill, grey of the bowl with fish inside, yellow of the pickled scallions, pink of the ceramic beer mug in the back, and blue of the desk lamp.
As this abstract work uses as much white as a whole, freshness of the fish stands out and colours are added to the frame by using the pickled scallions filled plentifully in the jar, and the beer mug design in pink.
One of the features of his still life paintings is his skill in sophisticated mixed materials that emphasizes the presence of figures and textures of each object.
コレクション
  • Title: Marionetto (Marionette)
  • Year: 1958 (Age 51)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 44th Kofukai Art Exhibition
My mother said that Sugimura had spent a lot of time making female nude sketches before the Second World War, influenced by his art teacher, Manjiro Terauchi.
This experience was connected to motifs such as Japanese dolls called Hinaningyo, or Hina dolls, and marionettes. Especially, the marionette is used as a material, which plays an important role in figure and colour in the still life painting, and gives the elegant expression to the screen with a light personification.
As a still life painting, not a doll painting, the colours of the black jacket and the pants with checkered pattern on the left, the red rubashka of the old man doll with white beard in the middle, and the yellow jacket of the donkey doll on the right. In this work as well, the wall behind brought an effect of extending the feeling of lively motion to the whole portrait, while absorbing the slightly unnatural awkward movements of the dolls in his work.
コレクション
  • Title: Fujin-zo (Portrait of the Woman)
  • Year: 1933 (Age 26)
  • Size: P80 (1,455×970mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 1st Kahoku Newspaper Art Exhibition (formerly Tohoku Art Exhibition)
The mobility of the human body structure is emphasized in this work, as if this model is looking down at the mezzanine floor.
Renowned local painter and Japan Academy member, Sotaro Yasui, the judge of Kahoku Newspaper Art Exhibition (formerly the Tohoku Art Exhibition), criticized this work bitterly at that time for his rough and unpolished impression he had on this painting. Despite that, he gave it the top prize at the exhibition.
This work certainly shows that Sugimura seriously made an effort for human body sketches in his school days, but I think that the feeling of tension still remains in the expressions for the pattern on the Yukata, an informal cotton kimono, the potted plant behind the shadow of the chair, and so on.
Another factor is that because he used his niece as a model for this work, who was like a young sister to him, I can feel that their intimate relationship between the painter and the model from this work.
My parents said that all of his works he painted in prewar times were burned down in Tokyo and Sendai during the Second World War. However, this is a rare work which survived – as this work was found by his grandson at the inner part of a warehouse in the last years of his Sugimura’s life.
コレクション
  • Title: Kowareta Kangakki (A broken wind instrument)
  • Year: 1979 (Age 72)
  • Size: F80 (1,455×1,120mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the reorganized 3rd Nitten
The black clarinet visually connects the black lantern on the left and the dull brass trumpet on the right. The mask, the white cake bowl, and the blue soda siphon add colours on the canvas and the different materials of the texture such as metal, ceramic, and glass harmoniously exist.
The layout of the keys which decorate both the clarinet’s body and the trumpet’s piston, finger rest, and valve slide are happily drawn on the canvas. As a still life artist, he seems to be fixated by things made of metal, and he was attracted to turning them into a freeform painting.
I think that this painting may have attracted people especially scientists because of this painting’s diligent composition and as well as his patience for his process of making art.
コレクション
  • Title: Yokotawaru Ningyo (Doll at Rest)
  • Year: 1981 (Age 74)
  • Size: F50 (11,167×910mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Notes: exhibited in the 6th Nichiyou Exhibition
The doll wearing the sombrero is lying down in a carelessly sprawled way in front of the black triangular clock, the white liquor bottle, and the bugle with the wound string; it looks as if this composition would have some stories but I think that it has no allegorical meaning. He often called himself an “artisan of painting” and didn’t want to depict his feelings in his works. In this work as well, he might have enjoyed the expansion of colours on the wall with the multi-layered undercoats and on the desk, where the objects cast a shadows upon/on. He said that it was really “difficult” to depict simple composition from the front, and this is the work that his ability as a “still life artist” can be seen.
コレクション
  • Title: Shiogama-ko – Hogeisen (Shiogama Port – Whaling Ships)
  • Year: 1947 (Age 40)
  • Size: F4 (333×242mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
This motif is perceived to be a whaling vessel. Sugimura depicted the heaviness and the mightiness of this structure floating on the dark sea in a gloomy sky using blue and white.
The curve lines of the sterns of each ship facing left, and the quays seen on the bottom right of the portrait both deliver deep emotion. These explain why this is not just a simple portrait of a ship.
Although this painting is small in size, it can be considered a masterpiece if we can imagine the ambience of the port far away.
I have seen other works of my father regarding ships docked at Shiogama port before the Second World War. Out of many, I believe this one – Shiogama-ko – Hogeisen – is the best.
He lost a lot of his fellow painter colleagues in the war. While he didn’t show any feelings or opinions about it, I am quite sure that his experience had a great influence on this paintings.
コレクション
  • Title: Shiogama-ko nite (At Shiogama Port)
  • Year: 1947(Age 40)
  • Size: F6 (410×318mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
Is it winter? The gray ship is anchored in the gray sea that seems to be merging into the sky.
It seems that Sugimura was drawn to the beauty of how the backsides of the two ships – the curves seen in the front one – blending into the contrasting colours of the misty one behind.
There is a variety of known painters who specialize in making expressive ship portraits, such as the Britain’s William Turner in the 18th Century. Sugimura depicts the presence of the ships in the misty atmosphere with the shadow falling into the sea.
This portrait is a prologue to what would become Sugimura’s iconic paintings of Romanticism during his time.
コレクション
  • Title: Shiogama Shiyakusho Kyuchosha (The Former Shiogama City Hall Building)
  • Year: 1959 (Age 52), completed in 2001 (Age 93)
  • Size: P12 (606×455mm)
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
The news that the Shiogama City Hall at that time was scheduled to be rebuilt made Sugimura want to paint the building in haste for his memories. It was because the building was located in front of his house halfway up the hill in Shiogama’s Asahi-cho neighbourhood. The mayor of the time, Mr. Sakurai, an important supporter for him during his stay in Shiogama, was really happy to hear that.
But since Sugimura was known to be a slow painter – gradually taking this time to finish his work, he had to donate this painting in 1959 past the intended deadline without his signature – as he wanted to fix it later. This happened because the city wanted to make his work public as soon as possible.
40 years later towards the last days of his life, Shiogama City asked him to repair it at the City’s request. He polished it based on sketches he used to possess thanks to his very organized way of getting things done. In addition, he also removed long-lasting stains accumulated on the painting surface over the years. Only after that, he finally signed his name on this painting – and accomplished his promise to Mayor Sakurai.
I believe that Sugimura acquired this skill of drawing these public buildings through his grandfather, Kanko Inuzuka. Sugimura’s mother, Kiyoi Sugimura, once told me that his grandfather was a skilled painter taught by a teacher named Yuichi Takahashi, an oil painter who specializes in drawing buildings. This bit of background is important because Michitsune Mishima was an influential person in Japan’s Meiji era (1868-1912), as he was once then the governor of Yamagata Prefecture, west of Miyagi.
In the painting, the city hall’s roof and second floor are both emphasized. Deviating from the usual way Sugimura illustrates his paintings, that with deep emotion and mood, he decided to show them objectively with precision, and accurate measurements.
In addition, he emphasized that this painting expresses the way he sees this building – looking down from the second floor of his home halfway up the hill. Decorated with the mountain range in the backdrop, and painted in a soft and quiet tone, this was intended to preserve his memories of this building. Together, these characteristics makes this painting very special to him.