Itsuo Kiritani: 23 Views of Tokyo

Chinese Restaurant, Kikusuiken (中華料理「菊水軒」)
Address: Nihonbashi-ningyocho 1-Chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (日本橋人形町1丁目、中央区、東京)
Ink on paper
Signature: I. Kiritani
Heisei Period, 1997
Gift of Tim Winant

About the Artist

Itsuo Kiritani is a Japanese painter educated in both Japan and the West who focuses on aspects of urban life on both sides of the Pacific. Click here for more information.

Learn more! In order to better understand this exhibit, our curator recommends:

Itsuo Kiritani’s Cities: Our Past and Future Dreams by Ronald Haigh.
Includes over 250 pictures, biography, interviews, music, and critical essays. Printed books are available (POD) by special order, email here

October 2, 2012– January 27, 2013

Artist’s Statement

Tokyo, once called Edo, has been prospering as the center of Japan’s politics, economy and culture for over 400 years. Unfortunately, World War II as well as various disasters and modernization have destroyed a majority of its old housing and traditional communities. Born in Tokyo, I have lived there and witnessed this drastic change.

More than 30 years ago, I decided, as an artist, to paint the last scenes of traditional Tokyo which have been rapidly vanishing, to leave a record of them for the next generation. I searched every corner of the city and produced hundreds of paintings.

The pen drawings shown in this exhibition are all drawn on site. All the people in the drawings are the people I actually saw there, locals walking back and forth in front of me as I spent day after day at each particular place. It’s a record of their bicycles, their cats, even their laundry hanging out of their homes. I depicted the exact scene and atmosphere I encountered at each place.

Tokyo has metamorphosed into a gigantic metropolis. Although, not many, some old streets and traditional neighborhoods still remain here and there. I hope that these few remaining places will be preserved for the next generation, not simply as an inheritance of our past, but as a resource of power for our future development.

– Itsuo Kiritani

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