BASARA

 

Basara is an art concept proposed by Tenmyouya Hisashi in 2010 as an extension of the lineage of exceptionally glamorous beauty that connects the ancient rough god Susanoo, the basara of the Nanboku dynasty, the kabukimono of the late Sengoku era, the ukiyo-e masters of the late Edo period, Godzilla, and Japanese recent youth culture with its bad and decorative tastes. Tenmyouya places this culture at the opposite end of the spectrum from wabi-sabi and zen, and rather close to cool and valiant samurai mentality. Avoiding the weakness of Japanese contemporary art that tends to highlight the microcosms of individual mindsets (which is also the problem point of the Japanese modern so-called I-novel), Basara directly connects the axes of Japanese culture and history in an attempt to define a new identity of Japanese art beyond individual stories. By adopting a stance that is neither aristocratic (high) nor ordinary (low), but that reflects a samurai mentality rooted in the Japanese street, Basara avoids the Western scheme of high and low art.

 

Centering around splendid vital energy as exemplified by Jomon pottery, the extraordinarily glamorous basara samurai mentality born in the Sengoku era had been suppressed in the Edo period with its rehabilitation of dynastic culture, but was gradually brought to life again by the chivalrous ukiyo-e masters of the late Edo period. The street culture that embodies the spirit of basara evolved from ancient Jomon pottery into various forms of visual culture, ranging from kinpeki shouhekiga (large paintings on walls, screens or sliding doors) to kawarikabuto (decorative samurai helmets), Oribe tea bowls, ukiyo-e, floats, Nikko Toushougu shrine, tattoos, and finally, today’s decorated trucks, graffiti, cartoons, decorated cell phones, etc. Representative basara artists are Kanou Eitoku, Iwasa Matabei, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Kawanabe Kyosai, Kanou Hougai、and Kanou Kazunobu. Without simply marking artists with such non-standard techniques and ideas as ”exceptional talents” or ”phenomena”, the aim here is to place them legitimately in the basara genealogy within the context of history.

 

Tenmyouya’s Basara represents an attempt to take over the two categories of Japanese art (culture) that Okamoto Taro and Hashimoto Osamu proposed as ”Yayoi-like” and “Jomon-like” – the relationship between which is like that between the moon and the sun – while expansively amplifying the “Jomon-ish” in order to establish a historical connection between ancient and modern times. Fundamentally, it raises questions about modernism and the distorted aesthetic of Japanese traditional art that tends to rate the dynamically innovative sun culture of the “Jomon-like” lower than the delicately graceful shadow culture of the ”Yayoi-like”, contraposing for that matter such visual cultural aspects as wabi-sabi and basara, symbol and line drawing, manga and cartoon, otaku and yankee culture. Regarding the difference between Japanese traditional wabi-sabi aesthetic of the shadow, and the sun aesthetic of basara, the latter prefers rusticity over elegance, novelty over grace, irregularity over harmony, stimulation over emotion, the crazy over the classy, the realistic over the refined, and the festive over the ordinary.

 

Until now, the evaluation of Japanese culture has been based mostly on its distance from the outside (Western culture), and the adaptation of that quality. The modern age in Japan was an age of inculturation, receiving the light of Western culture that made the moon shine. At the same time, the relativization of Japanese culture itself has become an inviolable taboo, which resulted in a loss of diversity. The best example for this is probably the self-deceiving mythification of the ”Japanese mind”. For example, the irony and humor of the Edo period ukiyo-e are normally alien to this “Japanese mind”. However it isn’t sentimentally poetic moon-viewing alone that characterizes Japanese culture, but Japanese culture is neither more nor less than an admiring cherry blossoms in full bloom, feeling enraptured by large and colorful fireworks, and being animated by the ebulliently elevating mood of gorgeous mikoshi and floats. It’s like with delicate sparklers and pompous fireworks – both of which have to be variations of the same Japanese art of fireworks. What remains unchanged though are the positions of sparklers and moon-viewing, which are ever so lovingly held as the castle keeps of Japanese art. While superficially accepting modernism, traditional Japanese culture has long been regarding the ordinary (moon) to be more precious than the festive (sun). From the modern up to the present age, Japanese cultural views have been defined by the lunar calendar. Basara aims to reverse traditional values in order to restore the fertile light of the sun that originally characterized Japanese art. It is at once an attempt to claim back through relativization within Japanese art, rather than by comparison with the outside, the diversity that it is supposed to abound in so much more.

 

In a nutshell, Basara is a “festivity” abstracted from modern-day Japan. Therefore, Basara assumes the character of criticism of modernism in Japan. The superficial acceptance of modernism in Japan has been deified by abstracting perspectives of human vibrancy and criticism of realism from original Japanese art. To put it plainly without fear of being misunderstood, all that came out as a result was the art form of the ”landscape painting”. Before we knew it, contemporary Japanese-style painting has become horrendously bad at portraying human life and contemporary society. Basara is at once an attempt to re-establish aspects of humanity and corporeality in contemporary Japanese-style painting and Japanese art at large.

 

In the art book "Basara – Japanese art theory crossing borders: from Jomon pottery to decorated trucks", Tenmyouya explains Japanese art history in Japanese and English texts, accompanied by plenty of photographs.

BASARA

 

BASARA(ばさら)とは、天明屋尚が2010年に提唱した美術概念。

 日本神話に登場する荒ぶる神スサノオ、南北朝期の婆娑羅、戦国末期の傾奇者、幕末の奇想絵師から現代の荒神としてのゴジラまで、日本のストリートに連綿と根づいてきた華美にして破壊的な美の系譜を「BASARA(ばさら)」と総称。侘び寂びや禅が体現する情緒的な文人気質とは対極にある、祝祭的な武人気質の美の系譜と位置づけた。

 日本の近代私小説における問題点と同様に、マイクロな個人の内面の吐露で終わりがちな日本の現代美術の弱点からは一線を画し、日本の文化軸と歴史軸を直結。「個」の物語に終わらない、日本美術の新たなアイデンティティを模索する試みとしている。

 また貴族趣味(ハイ)でも大衆迎合(ロウ)でもない第三路線、日本に土着し、日本のストリートに根づいた武人気質という立場をとることで、西洋のハイ&ロウの図式に回収されることを回避している。

 

 天明屋が編著した『BASARA 越境する日本美術論―縄文土器からデコトラまで―』(美術出版社、2010年)』でより詳しく説明されている。同書では、縄文土器が体現する神聖で豪快な生命力を原点としつつ、戦国期に生まれた祝祭的な武人気質、BASARAは、王朝文化が復権した江戸初期には「悪所」に封じ込まれて抑圧されたが、時代が下るにつれ、男伊達な江戸の奇想絵師たちによって再び華開いたといった見解が骨子となっている。

 BASARAを体現するストリート文化としては、古代の縄文土器に端を発し、金碧障壁画、変わり兜、織部茶碗、浮世絵、錦絵、山車、日光東照宮、刺青、そして現在のデコトラ、グラフィティ、劇画などさまざまな視覚文化を網羅。さらにBASARAを代表する絵師として狩野永徳、岩佐又兵衛、葛飾北斎、歌川国芳、河鍋暁斎、狩野芳崖、狩野一信などを列挙。こうした規格外の技量と発想をもった絵師を、「異才」「奇才」などの記号で片付けず、BASARA の系譜として日本美術の中で正統的に位置づけることを目指す。

 

 岡本太郎や橋本治らが提唱した「弥生的」・「縄文的」と言われる日本美術の2分法を継承しつつ、この「縄文的」なるものを発展的に拡充し、神話の時代から現代までを歴史的につなぐ試みがBASARAと言える。その根本には、繊細で優美な「弥生的」に対し、豪快で野性味ある「縄文的」が下位に置かれがちという、伝統的な日本美術の歪んだ美意識に対する問題提起がある。

 近代における「日本画」というジャンルの誕生は、言わば日本美術における天孫降臨であった。近代以降の「日本画」は突如、天から降って来た西洋美術の価値観に並走することを求められ、西洋画のマチエールやモダニズムに対抗することを余儀なくされていく。

 結果としては以降の日本美術の価値観において、先述した「弥生的」な美の系譜は、西洋モダニズムに呼応しうる優等生として優遇され、支配的となり、「縄文的」な美の系譜が持つ祝祭性や民俗性、土着性は、前近代を思い起こさせる呪縛として屈服させられることとなる(かつての天津神と国津神の関係のように)。しかし、詫び・寂びや、禅・茶道が持つ情緒性だけが日本文化であるはずもなく、満開の桜を愛で、大空を彩る花火に酔いしれ、絢爛な神輿で活気づく霊性、祝祭性もまた日本文化の一側面に他ならない。

 現在では明治期に誕生した「日本画」という枠組みの限界を自覚し、日本美術の大きな流れのなかで再定義する試みもしばしば議論されるようになってきたし、2019年に「奇想の系譜展 江戸絵画ミラクルワールド」(東京都美術館、東京)が開かれ、伊藤若冲や曽我蕭白など奇想の画家に焦点が当たるなど、従来の硬直化した見方に対する是正も進んできている。

 

 端的に言ってBASARAとは、近代日本が捨象した「祝祭」である。BASARAとは、詫び・寂びや用の美といった従来の文人的な価値観では絡め取れない奇想の系譜、あり得たかもしれないオルタナティブな日本画の可能性、日本のモダニズムに対するストリートの視線からの下克上なのである。

[アップデート版 2019.4.11]

Copyright © Tenmyouya Hisashi All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © Tenmyouya Hisashi All Rights Reserved.

BASARA

 

Basara is an art concept proposed by Tenmyouya Hisashi in 2010 as an extension of the lineage of exceptionally glamorous beauty that connects the ancient rough god Susanoo, the basara of the Nanboku dynasty, the kabukimono of the late Sengoku era, the ukiyo-e masters of the late Edo period, Godzilla, and Japanese recent youth culture with its bad and decorative tastes. Tenmyouya places this culture at the opposite end of the spectrum from wabi-sabi and zen, and rather close to cool and valiant samurai mentality. Avoiding the weakness of Japanese contemporary art that tends to highlight the microcosms of individual mindsets (which is also the problem point of the Japanese modern so-called I-novel), Basara directly connects the axes of Japanese culture and history in an attempt to define a new identity of Japanese art beyond individual stories. By adopting a stance that is neither aristocratic (high) nor ordinary (low), but that reflects a samurai mentality rooted in the Japanese street, Basara avoids the Western scheme of high and low art.

 

Centering around splendid vital energy as exemplified by Jomon pottery, the extraordinarily glamorous basara samurai mentality born in the Sengoku era had been suppressed in the Edo period with its rehabilitation of dynastic culture, but was gradually brought to life again by the chivalrous ukiyo-e masters of the late Edo period. The street culture that embodies the spirit of basara evolved from ancient Jomon pottery into various forms of visual culture, ranging from kinpeki shouhekiga (large paintings on walls, screens or sliding doors) to kawarikabuto (decorative samurai helmets), Oribe tea bowls, ukiyo-e, floats, Nikko Toushougu shrine, tattoos, and finally, today’s decorated trucks, graffiti, cartoons, decorated cell phones, etc. Representative basara artists are Kanou Eitoku, Iwasa Matabei, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Kawanabe Kyosai, Kanou Hougai、and Kanou Kazunobu. Without simply marking artists with such non-standard techniques and ideas as ”exceptional talents” or ”phenomena”, the aim here is to place them legitimately in the basara genealogy within the context of history.

 

Tenmyouya’s Basara represents an attempt to take over the two categories of Japanese art (culture) that Okamoto Taro and Hashimoto Osamu proposed as ”Yayoi-like” and “Jomon-like” – the relationship between which is like that between the moon and the sun – while expansively amplifying the “Jomon-ish” in order to establish a historical connection between ancient and modern times. Fundamentally, it raises questions about modernism and the distorted aesthetic of Japanese traditional art that tends to rate the dynamically innovative sun culture of the “Jomon-like” lower than the delicately graceful shadow culture of the ”Yayoi-like”, contraposing for that matter such visual cultural aspects as wabi-sabi and basara, symbol and line drawing, manga and cartoon, otaku and yankee culture. Regarding the difference between Japanese traditional wabi-sabi aesthetic of the shadow, and the sun aesthetic of basara, the latter prefers rusticity over elegance, novelty over grace, irregularity over harmony, stimulation over emotion, the crazy over the classy, the realistic over the refined, and the festive over the ordinary.

 

Until now, the evaluation of Japanese culture has been based mostly on its distance from the outside (Western culture), and the adaptation of that quality. The modern age in Japan was an age of inculturation, receiving the light of Western culture that made the moon shine. At the same time, the relativization of Japanese culture itself has become an inviolable taboo, which resulted in a loss of diversity. The best example for this is probably the self-deceiving mythification of the ”Japanese mind”. For example, the irony and humor of the Edo period ukiyo-e are normally alien to this “Japanese mind”. However it isn’t sentimentally poetic moon-viewing alone that characterizes Japanese culture, but Japanese culture is neither more nor less than an admiring cherry blossoms in full bloom, feeling enraptured by large and colorful fireworks, and being animated by the ebulliently elevating mood of gorgeous mikoshi and floats. It’s like with delicate sparklers and pompous fireworks – both of which have to be variations of the same Japanese art of fireworks. What remains unchanged though are the positions of sparklers and moon-viewing, which are ever so lovingly held as the castle keeps of Japanese art. While superficially accepting modernism, traditional Japanese culture has long been regarding the ordinary (moon) to be more precious than the festive (sun). From the modern up to the present age, Japanese cultural views have been defined by the lunar calendar. Basara aims to reverse traditional values in order to restore the fertile light of the sun that originally characterized Japanese art. It is at once an attempt to claim back through relativization within Japanese art, rather than by comparison with the outside, the diversity that it is supposed to abound in so much more.

 

In a nutshell, Basara is a “festivity” abstracted from modern-day Japan. Therefore, Basara assumes the character of criticism of modernism in Japan. The superficial acceptance of modernism in Japan has been deified by abstracting perspectives of human vibrancy and criticism of realism from original Japanese art. To put it plainly without fear of being misunderstood, all that came out as a result was the art form of the ”landscape painting”. Before we knew it, contemporary Japanese-style painting has become horrendously bad at portraying human life and contemporary society. Basara is at once an attempt to re-establish aspects of humanity and corporeality in contemporary Japanese-style painting and Japanese art at large.

 

In the art book "Basara – Japanese art theory crossing borders: from Jomon pottery to decorated trucks", Tenmyouya explains Japanese art history in Japanese and English texts, accompanied by plenty of photographs.

BASARA

 

BASARA(ばさら)とは、天明屋尚が2010年に提唱した美術概念。

 日本神話に登場する荒ぶる神スサノオ、南北朝期の婆娑羅、戦国末期の傾奇者、幕末の奇想絵師から現代の荒神としてのゴジラまで、日本のストリートに連綿と根づいてきた華美にして破壊的な美の系譜を「BASARA(ばさら)」と総称。侘び寂びや禅が体現する情緒的な文人気質とは対極にある、祝祭的な武人気質の美の系譜と位置づけた。

 日本の近代私小説における問題点と同様に、マイクロな個人の内面の吐露で終わりがちな日本の現代美術の弱点からは一線を画し、日本の文化軸と歴史軸を直結。「個」の物語に終わらない、日本美術の新たなアイデンティティを模索する試みとしている。

 また貴族趣味(ハイ)でも大衆迎合(ロウ)でもない第三路線、日本に土着し、日本のストリートに根づいた武人気質という立場をとることで、西洋のハイ&ロウの図式に回収されることを回避している。

 

 天明屋が編著した『BASARA 越境する日本美術論―縄文土器からデコトラまで―』(美術出版社、2010年)』でより詳しく説明されている。同書では、縄文土器が体現する神聖で豪快な生命力を原点としつつ、戦国期に生まれた祝祭的な武人気質、BASARAは、王朝文化が復権した江戸初期には「悪所」に封じ込まれて抑圧されたが、時代が下るにつれ、男伊達な江戸の奇想絵師たちによって再び華開いたといった見解が骨子となっている。

 BASARAを体現するストリート文化としては、古代の縄文土器に端を発し、金碧障壁画、変わり兜、織部茶碗、浮世絵、錦絵、山車、日光東照宮、刺青、そして現在のデコトラ、グラフィティ、劇画などさまざまな視覚文化を網羅。さらにBASARAを代表する絵師として狩野永徳、岩佐又兵衛、葛飾北斎、歌川国芳、河鍋暁斎、狩野芳崖、狩野一信などを列挙。こうした規格外の技量と発想をもった絵師を、「異才」「奇才」などの記号で片付けず、BASARA の系譜として日本美術の中で正統的に位置づけることを目指す。

 

 岡本太郎や橋本治らが提唱した「弥生的」・「縄文的」と言われる日本美術の2分法を継承しつつ、この「縄文的」なるものを発展的に拡充し、神話の時代から現代までを歴史的につなぐ試みがBASARAと言える。その根本には、繊細で優美な「弥生的」に対し、豪快で野性味ある「縄文的」が下位に置かれがちという、伝統的な日本美術の歪んだ美意識に対する問題提起がある。

 近代における「日本画」というジャンルの誕生は、言わば日本美術における天孫降臨であった。近代以降の「日本画」は突如、天から降って来た西洋美術の価値観に並走することを求められ、西洋画のマチエールやモダニズムに対抗することを余儀なくされていく。

 結果としては以降の日本美術の価値観において、先述した「弥生的」な美の系譜は、西洋モダニズムに呼応しうる優等生として優遇され、支配的となり、「縄文的」な美の系譜が持つ祝祭性や民俗性、土着性は、前近代を思い起こさせる呪縛として屈服させられることとなる(かつての天津神と国津神の関係のように)。しかし、詫び・寂びや、禅・茶道が持つ情緒性だけが日本文化であるはずもなく、満開の桜を愛で、大空を彩る花火に酔いしれ、絢爛な神輿で活気づく霊性、祝祭性もまた日本文化の一側面に他ならない。

 現在では明治期に誕生した「日本画」という枠組みの限界を自覚し、日本美術の大きな流れのなかで再定義する試みもしばしば議論されるようになってきたし、2019年に「奇想の系譜展 江戸絵画ミラクルワールド」(東京都美術館、東京)が開かれ、伊藤若冲や曽我蕭白など奇想の画家に焦点が当たるなど、従来の硬直化した見方に対する是正も進んできている。

 

 端的に言ってBASARAとは、近代日本が捨象した「祝祭」である。BASARAとは、詫び・寂びや用の美といった従来の文人的な価値観では絡め取れない奇想の系譜、あり得たかもしれないオルタナティブな日本画の可能性、日本のモダニズムに対するストリートの視線からの下克上なのである。

[アップデート版 2019.4.11]

Copyright © Tenmyouya Hisashi All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © Tenmyouya Hisashi All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © Tenmyouya Hisashi All Rights Reserved.