16 Jul Sumi-e Artist Shozo Koike
“When people ask me what is the meaning of painting, I answer: it is simple, is just my life!”. A sentence that emphasises not only Shozo Koike commitment and passion, but also how much art is present in every aspect, even simple, of his everyday life.
In China, during Tang dynasty (year 617), was born the Sumi-e technique. On the 14th century, Zen Buddhist monks introduced this art in Japan, were became quickly very popular. In 2002 Shozo Koike, a Japanese artist, brought Sumi-e to Monferrato.
Sumi in Japanese means “ink”, and the suffix -e indicate the word “art”. Simple and basics are the tools to use, simple is the technique and the oriental attitude. However, a simplicity that it is a deepness that gives the prowess to feel even colours on the shadings of grey. A black and white fully steeped from every nuance that is more than a binary combination. Sumi-e technique needs concentration and practice: the signs drawn are uncorrectable, the hand must be quick and precise, the artwork must be already in the mind of the executioner.
Shozo and his girlfriend Raffaella live in Casale Monferrato city centre. They are the perfect mix of western and eastern attitude, kindly and welcoming. We start to listen and understand what is Sumi-e, observing the black Japanese ink, made from pine that is rubbed on a wet stone and then used with the different tonalities with a traditional paintbrush. In few seconds he painted an aubergine: very simple, just some shades of grey, incredibly vivid.
The Japanese culture, the art and Sumi-e too, are very connected with the season cycle. Traditionally the first subjects that his students try to essay are plants and flowers: orchids, chrysanthemums and bamboo, then they can try to paint other plants, vegetables and landscapes.
Shozo came to Italy to study restoration in Florence, where he lived for 18 years. However, his passion for painting began when he was very young. It was not easy to discover that being an artist can be a struggle: studying during the day and working in the night as a cook or waiter, and live a long period of renounces. Today he is an accomplished painter, holds many art classes in Italy and exhibits in different locations, in Italy and Japan.
He moved to Casale Monferrato four years ago and holds Sumi-e classes during the year. Every workshop is a meeting, from the Japanese and oriental culture and kindness of the teacher, with the Italian and western wish to understand and act of his students.
A quote from the painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot opens the home page of Shozo Koike: “If you have really been touched, you will convey to others the sincerity of your emotion“.
Sumi-e Artist Shozo Koike
Written by Tommaso Zavattaro | Photography by Vincenzo Bagnetto