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Japanese Art Appreciation

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Review: Work of Art, Portrait of Sissee See

Sissee See was not yet married by the time the portrait was being made. Later, she was married to Gilbert Leong and she was henceforth known as Florence Leong See.

The Portrait of Sissee See is a work of art by Benji Okubo. It was made between 1927 and 1945. It is stretched and framed. The first thing that you see by just a glance is a portrait of a woman. The image is turned toward the right in such a way that the woman faces the right edge of the frame. She wears a white flower that is tucked underneath a bright hair band that is lime in color.

While the image is visible from the neck, it is slightly cropped at the top of the hair. The artist has successfully used a mixture of colors to achieve a desired hue that brings a bright and luminous aspect. The artist has used two muted complementary colors; the reds (as rose and coral) and the greens (sea form green, sage and green).

The artist has also managed to bring out the beauty and attractiveness of a youthful woman by the use of form and shading. The shading is tenderly modeled.  To bring out the fine details of the hair, nose, eyes, lips, brows and ears the artist has elegantly and precisely rendered the contour lines. Synchronism has greatly influenced the style of painting to show a graceful and solid woman using a balance of form, rhythm and color harmony so as to attract and excite the viewer.

By the very presence of flowers on the woman’s hair and boom, an aspect of youthful freshness is emphasized. The woman is young, lovely and full of vitality. The glow on her face seemingly depicts her inner glowing character but her expression and posture shows intelligence, thoughtfulness and strength.

Review: Work of Art, Two Nuns and Church

“Two nuns and church” is a work of art by artist Henry Sugimoto. The image was drawn in 1931 in France. These paintings depict the interests that Sugimoto had for cathedrals and churches in France. The church is particularly a very beautiful example of Gothic architecture in east central France near the rural town of Tigeaux. It is seemingly the Seine Marne region of France strongly captivated Sugimoto as a young painter. Sugimoto travelled and painted in that area. He sought vistas that incorporated architectural forms into the French country landscape. All these were typical of one of his primary influences, Dunoyer De Segonzac.

The work of art has an unstretched as well as unframed canvas. The main subject is a French church, a Gothic structure with a single outstanding tower. The church is endowed with arched windows on the sides together with what may be flying buttresses also on the sides.

On the sidewalk around the left side of the church, two nuns are walking with their backs to the viewer. Around the left of the church, a road curves into the background that seems to be a forested area. On the lower right of the painting by Sugimoto, there is a stylized tree that is bare of leaves.

The powerful masonry of the church is captured by deep grays colorfully matched to the sky. The church’s architecture is mirrored by the layered composition of the painting. A particular technique of much interest used by Sugimoto is painting. The painting depicts use of vertical brushstrokes to clearly bring out the church’s geometric forms. On the other hand, more fluid open brushstrokes are reserved for the trees and the ground surrounding the church. This technique brings out the contrast between dynamism of the natural world and the solidity of the church. The church stands out locked in a timeless realm while the branches of the tree on the lower right swirl like flames.

Review: Work of Art, [At the French Consulate in Berne, Switzerland, 1939]

The image, a 10 by 14.5 in drawing is on paper with the use of ink. The drawing was done by Mine Okubo between 1942 and 1944.

This drawing is for a book, Citizen 13660.  The drawing for this book began as sketches created by Okubo while he was incarcerated at Tanforan and Topaz so that he could tell his faithful friends about camp life.

On the bottom right corner of the drawing, the word “Mine” has been inscribed. Again on the bottom right corner, the number ‘3’ has been inscribed and circled using a pencil.The number ‘5191’ has been stamped using black ink on back, top left corner. On the back, bottom right corner of the drawing, ‘3’ has been inscribed.

Mine Okubo, the woman with flipped forelock of hair sits at a table listening to refugees. The refugees are retelling their experiences on the last boat leaving Bordeaux, France for America. This is before United States of America joined the World War 2.

Mine is dressed in a stripped pinafore that rests over a collared blouse. Her chin is rested in proper left hand at the top left end of the drawing. She is listening to another woman at the center with her back to the viewer gesturing with her open arms. On the bottom right sits a man with worry lining his face. His hands are clasped. Across the table, a mustached man with bowtie sits next to Mine. He is talking to someone else while at far right, an older woman wearing glasses listens. At bottom left, another woman holds her hand to her face. In the background behind Mine, four other people are also engaged in some conversation.

Review: Work of Art, The Third Winter in Topaz

This painting, 16 by 20 in, was made in 1944 by Hisako Hibi. He used oil to paint. It is unframed. The canvas of the painting is however stretched.

On the lower left side, it is signed: Hisako Hibi / 1944. On the back side of the painting, it is signed: The Third Winter in Topaz Utah Jan, 1944.

In this painting Hisako Hibi seems to have resolved some of the compositional and perspective issues she was grappling with in other works. She gives us a view of the barracks from a very sharp profile. As a result, the edges of the roofs seem to be receding backward into space. The electrical poles seem to echo the rows of the barracks. They also provide a kind of pathway between the poles and the buildings. Snow covers the rooftops and the ground assuring us that it is winter indeed.  The sky is seemingly covered with heavy clouds. The barracks is a quiet place with only three lone individuals dotting the landscape. One is on the bottom right between the barracks, another on the bottom left while the other is deep in the area that is depicted as though it is receding into space.  The presence of smoke arising from the chimney shows ongoing unseen activities in the barracks possibly warming of the barracks to keep warm or cooking.

From the painting, the barracks recede on left and right into distance from one point perspective. There is an image of a lone figure walking down the street between two rows of snow covered barracks receding into distance in Topaz concentration camps. Another figure walks along the sidewalk on the left next to row of utility poles.

Review: Work of art, [Young Woman in White Graduation Gown standing in Flower Garden Rhower, Arkansas, 1942-1945]

This photograph, measuring 3.625 by was in taken in Rhower, Arkansas between 1942 and 1945 by Walter Muramoto.

This photograph is a one photographic print: black and white

The graduate on the photograph is a young woman. She is in a white graduation mortarboard and gown standing in a flower farm at Rhower concentration camp. She is definitely very happy as seen by her smile as she is standing in knee-high flowers that obscure her feet. On the front, she has clasped her hands while on the background lies a hedge and a two-storey structure.

Review: Work of art, [Woman in suit with orchid corsage, United States, 1940]

This photograph was taken by Walter Muramoto in 1940 in the United States. It is a full-length portrait. The photographic print of this photograph is black and white. This full-length photograph has a height of 5 inches and a width of 3 inches.

This photograph was originally photographed in 1940 but printed in August, 1944. This information is inscribed at the back of the photograph by a pencil, T: Taken about 4 years ago, printed in 8/22/1944.

It shows a woman smiling while standing on a dirt road at a corner of a field in the United States.  The smile depicts a great feeling of joy and happiness. The woman has a suit over a white blouse. On the background of the photograph are trees as well as a multi-storey building on the center left side of the photograph. 

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