Japanese Art and Rimpa: Sekka and Fusions of Art Styles

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Japanese Art and Rimpa: Sekka and Fusions of Art Styles 

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942) witnessed enormous cultural, political and artistic changes within Japan during his lifetime. He was born during the death throes of the Edo Period whereby the Meiji Restoration of 1868 would revolutionize Japan. This also impacted heavily on the art scene because the ukiyo-e bedrock was being challenged by new technology, the impact of new ideas and the changing nature of society. However, towards the end of his life the free thinking world of his youth was being challenged by the forces of nationalism and socialism to a much stronger degree.

Internationally, Kamisaka Sekka is clearly one of the most intriguing artists to have been born in the land of the rising sun. After all, in the old world the richness of Japanese art was mostly hidden away by the closed-door dogma of the Edo Period. Of course, some small windows were left open but times were changing greatly during the last two decades of the Edo period. The outside world in many areas was now firmly encroaching because soon “Japan’s” world would be turned upside down. This applies to the revolutionary fervor of the Meiji period and the impact of new thought patterns which were emanating from Europe and North America.

Kamisaka Sekka also made the most of his upbringing because he was born in the cultural city of Kyoto. Kyoto, like other amazing places like Nara and Koyasan in Kansai, to name only two, is internationally famous for high culture. Therefore, the rich environment of Kyoto must have impacted on such a creative child because from a very early age it was clear that he was gifted.


In time Kamisaka Sekka would be firmly known for the traditions of the exquisite Rimpa art form. Yet, true to his creativity he was also deeply influenced by aspects of European art and other areas of Japanese culture. It is known that Art Nouveau intrigued him greatly therefore modernist ideas impacted on his Rimpa art work. This is the beauty of Kamisaka Sekka because he wasn’t afraid to experiment and to utilize other art forms, while remaining true to the art area he focused on heavily.

In 1910 Kamisaka Sekka stayed in Glasgow and clearly this major city in Scotland is a million miles from the world of Kyoto. This isn’t said in a negative sense because Glasgow is also a very creative city. However, the artistic, environmental, religious and climatic dimensions must have challenged Kamisaka Sekka deeply. Yet his nature meant that he was open to new ideas and concepts. Therefore, during his stay the power of Art Nouveau would become firmly entrenched within his artistic soul.

Kamisaka Sekka had visited Paris in 1901 therefore Glasgow was an extension of the ongoing evolution of this sublime artist. On the Fuji Arts website it is stated that he is “Considered the father of Japanese modern design…A 1901 trip to the Paris International Exposition proved pivotal in his artistic career, leading to his study of modern European industrial design. Sekka became a master of the historic Japanese tradition known as Rimpa, combining this traditional Japanese aesthetic with his own innovations to create stunning designs that are both modern and timeless.”


The art work of Kamisaka Sekka witnesses the world of nature and traditional objects gracefully turning into the world of abstract, whereby colorful and creative compositions play on the senses in a gentle way. At the same time Kamisaka Sekka was thinking beyond the artwork itself because he wanted to connect different cultures and thought patterns within simplicity. Of course, this simplicity could only be performed and perfected by a rare artist like Kamisaka Sekka.

In another article about Kamisaka Sekka I comment that “Kamisaka Sekka highlights how individuals can learn new artistic thought patterns and art forms but remain within the initial environment despite fusing new ideas. He truly is an international artist who pushed new internal boundaries in order to produce stunning pieces of art. Therefore, when viewing his finest pieces of art you can feel many different things related to the past and modernity. This quality was done in a way which was not only natural but is strikingly unique and beautiful.”


Kamisaka Sekka continues to enthrall people because his endearing individualism is deeply admired by art lovers all over the world.



Some articles about Japanese art and culture are republished by Modern Tokyo Times based on the need to inform people and our international readers about Japanese culture.



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