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Tanaka Isson: A Proudly Independent Painter Who Loved Amami

In a celebration of Tanaka Isson's 150th year of birth, five of the nihonga (Japanese-style) artist's paintings are being showcased with examples of art that influenced him, including literati paintings, Rimpa works, modern nihonga, ceramics, lacquerware and works by Isson's contemporaries Ito Jakuchu and Higashiyama Kaii.

Isson (1908-1977) was accepted at the Tokyo Art School (modern-day Tokyo University of the Arts) at age 18, but left after just two months due to a lack of funding and an illness in his family. Self-taught thereon after, he continued to paint despite having to work odd jobs to survive.

It was after Isson moved to Amami in Kagoshima Prefecture at age 50 that he began depicting nature in ways never before seen in nihonga. Those works finally brought the artist recognition and acclaim, albeit after his death. Yukari Tanaka