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Hisashi Tenmyouya


Interview and selected readings

Laura J. Mueller (LJM): What has inspired you most as an artist?

Hisashi Tenmyouya (HT): Before the establishment of the concept of Nihonga, or “Japanese-style painting,” I have taken inspiration from various schools of early-modern (1615–1868) Japanese painting like ukiyo-e, Kanō school, and Maruyama school.

LJM: What do you think are the most dominant themes or subjects in your artwork?

HT: The concept and themes of my art are expressed in my art manifesto basara produced in 2010. The traditional components of Japanese culture have always emphasized the concepts of wabi, sabi, Zen, or otaku. Japanese culture has been considered a world that is ascetic, static, simple, minimal, one of anime and manga.

However, that is just one aspect of Japanese culture. It is more diverse. We treasure the sight of cherry blossoms falling from the tree. We amuse ourselves with fireworks exploding like flowers blooming in the sky. We enjoy festivals with elaborately designed floats moving down the street. My manifesto basara is based on the subculture of the “street samurai culture” that is excessively decorative and imbued with a rebellious spirit that defies traditional values. Basara stands for anti-authority and anti-aristocratic culture, which is derived from samurai culture on the streets. Basara represents a counter to the traditional values of wabi, sabi, Zen, and otaku.

Selected readings

Tenmyouya, Hisashi. BASARA Japanese art theory crossing borders: from Jomon pottery to decorated trucks. Tokyo: Bijutsu Shuppan-sha, 2010.

Tenmyouya, Hisashi. Kamon Tenmyouya Hisashi. Tokyo: King of Mountain, 2007.

Nia Ikōru Tenmyouya Hisashi (Near equal Tenmyouya Hisashi). DVD. Directed by Go Ishizaki. Tokyo: B.B.B., 2006.

Hisashi Tenmyouya: Samurai Nouveau. DVD. Directed by Go Ishizaki. Tokyo: B.B.B., 2010.

Tenmyouya, Hisashi. Tenmyouya Hisashi. Tokyo: Kawade Shobō, 2006.

Tenmyouya, Hisashi. Kabuki-mono. Tokyo: PARCO, 2004.

Tenmyouya, Hisashi. Japanese Spirit. Tokyo: Gakken, 2003.

Tenmyouya, Hisashi. “Otokodate sengen” (A manifesto of masculinity), BT, vol. 61 (September 2009), pp. 10–12.



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