We reach Yamanashi Prefecture to discover another place, mostly unknown to foreigners visiting Japan. Those who love art in all its facets will be fascinated by the encounter with -Kiyoharu Art Village-.
A place wanted by people whose way of life has centered on the exchange of ideas, freedom, art, literature, and nature.
Kiyoharu Art Village
Kiyoharu Art Village was founded in 1983 by art dealer Chozo Yoshii to promote and develop exchanges between artists in Japan and abroad.
An idea hypothesized decades earlier within the Shirakabaha literary movement (White Birch Group) to which several Japanese writers belonged, all collaborators of the magazine that bore the group’s name.
The writers did not limit their interest to literature but also delved into other forms of art. The Shirakabaha held Western aesthetics in high esteem and, through their writings, promoted Western art and literature in Japanese society.
Kiyoharu Geijitsu Mura fully represents their dream come true.
From dream to reality thanks to the owner of art galleries in Tōkyō and Paris, Mr. Yoshii, who managed to realize an idea by having the atelier La Ruche built in the southern shadow of the Yatsugatake mountain range.
A sixteen-sided building that affords spectacular views in all directions overlooking the surrounding park, a copy of a Parisian work by architect Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. Initially manufactured to be used as a wine rotunda at the Great Exhibition in Paris in 1900, it became in the early twentieth century a residence for artists. Marc Chagall lodged here frequently and made use of the atelier.
La Ruche is an architectural marvel of Japan.
Kiyoharu Shirakaba Museum
A few hundred meters from the atelier, we find the Museum designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, one of Japan’s leading modernist architects who also worked on the expansion of the MoMA in New York. The building makes use of natural daylight to get the most out of the masterpieces that it houses.
The works on display are the primary collection of artists belonging to the Shirakabaha movement, such as Kaoru Higashiyama, Ryuzaburo Umehara, Ryusei Kishida, Bernard Reach, Kazumasa Nakagawa. Moreover, letters and manuscripts relating to the school, and the first issue of Shirakaba magazine.
Besides, it houses a vast collection of Georges Rouaut, a French painter close to the avant-garde group of the Fauves, also inspired by religious painting and Byzantine icons.
Kiyoharu Light Musem
In 2011, an additional museum: the Kiyoharu Light Musem, designed by the famous architect from Osaka, Ando Tadao.
Once again, Ando designed a building according to his unmistakable style, using only natural light to illuminate the interior, while the supporting structures follow the shape of the landscape.
Greeted by the variable light of the four seasons, of the weather, of the rising and setting sun in a single exhibition hall.
There is no denying it: Ando’s unique architecture makes the most of the beauty of the light that shines in the space he designed using an inorganic element: concrete.
As soon as it is possible to travel in the Land of the Kami, Kiyoharu Art Colony is worth a visit.