If ever an artist was in a constant state of reinvention, it was Masamu Yanase (1900-1945), now the subject of a full-scale exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, Hayama. "Yanase Masamu: A Retrospective 1900-1945" brings together more than 500 of the artist's works, large and small, for a comprehensive overview of his career.

His first reincarnation came as a teenager when, disliking his given name of Shoroku, he changed it to Masamu, incorporating the kanji character for "dream" into his new name. Leaving his parents in Kyushu, he arrived in Tokyo at age 14, but had to flit between there and home for lack of funds. He had no art-school training, but his precocious talent secured him patrons, enabling him to continue painting.

In a number of his landscapes in oils, painted when he was just 15 years old, he builds up both the sky and greenery with overlaid short, vertical brush strokes that harmonize the entire picture plane. A view of a coastal village seems to echo the smooth color planes and dramatically high viewpoint of a Japanese woodblock print, showing a range of interests indicative of an inquisitive mind. Even at this age, his talent was recognized and one of his paintings was included in an exhibition where it was singled out for praise by a leading art critic.