Untitled photo

Kiritani Itsuo

Artist's Message:  Traditional wooden houses are disappearing one after another from the Tokyo landscape. I realized this more than 30 years ago when I moved to Yanaka, one of the old areas of Tokyo known as shitamachi. A native of Tokyo, I had long witnessed the city changing through its policy of “modernization.” A sense of impending crisis came to me, however, when I realized that some changes were not simply visual but actually destroying the Japanese sense of community.

This prompted me to sketch and paint the distinctive housing, the streets, and the lives of people living throughout the whole of Tokyo. The aim was not merely to record, but to show how rich and beautiful the lifestyle of these areas is and was. I want others to realize that such a connected lifestyle is especially important in today’s modern world.  

Over the years, my pictures and essays have been featured in many books and magazines. Sadly, the majority of what I have depicted has been converted into isolated city blocks. Modernization doesn’t necessarily produce good things. There are cases when tradition is destroyed, relationships between neighbors are lost, and even communities themselves totally disappear.

The forty-seven pen drawings shown in this exhibition were selected from works I have kept together as a collection. They were all drawn entirely on site right up to their last strokes, requiring me to visit the same places over and over again. Each drawing reminds me of precious memories; the people I met and their stories. I still drop by sometimes to say hello to those who remain.

My experiences and the people I met during this time remain with me as irreplaceable treasures. Only a fraction of my Tokyo project can be shown here. But I believe even those who see my works for the first time will understand that this gigantic city Tokyo is full of variety, beauty, and is endlessly attractive.


そこで東京中を歩き回り、目に留まった建物や街並とそこに住む人たちの生活を描くことを決意した。  私が目指したのは単に記録を残すことではなく、美しく心豊かな住民たちの生活振りを人びとに知ってもらうためでもあった。現代社会では、隣近所のつながりがいかに大切かを、日本の皆さんに分かって欲しいと思う。  



今回展示された47点の作品は、手元に残した作品の中から選んだ。すべての作品は現場に何度も通って、最後の一筆まで現場で仕上げたものだ。だからどの作品もそれぞれ思い出深い。様々な人たちに出会い、様々な話を聞いた。今でも時々、地元の人たちに会いにいくことがある。そこで経験したこと、出会った人たちは私にとってかけがえのない宝だ。  ここに展示された作品だけで東京中を網羅することは不可能だ。しかし、初めて作品を見る人びとにも、この巨大な都市、東京が変化と美しさに満ちた魅力尽きない都市であることをご理解いただけることと思う。


1968 Waseda University, BA, Commercial Science

1974 Waseda University, BA, History of Fine Arts

1976~77 Academia der Bildenden Künste, Munich, Germany

1985 The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1986~1997 Tokyo Printing Institution

Major Engagements

1987 Solo Retrospective Exhibition ( over 100 works shown ), Otaru Sangyo Kaikan, Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan

1992 CWAJ Juried Print Show, Tokyo American Club, Tokyo, Japan (1993, 1994 )

1997 Solo Exhibition, Maruzen Gallery, Maruzen Bookstore, “Vanishing Old Tokyo”, Tokyo, Japan

1997 Solo Exhibition, Walsh Gallery, Chicago, USA

1998 Solo Exhibition, Inoue Gallery, “ American Cityscapes”, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan 1999 Solo Exhibition, Walsh Gallery, Chicago, USA

2000 Solo Exhibition, Gallery Goto, “Life is a Melody”, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan

2000 Solo Exhibition, Walter Wickiser Gallery, New York, USA

2003 Solo Exhibition, Maruzen Gallery, Maruzen Bookstore, “Old Tokyo Today”, Tokyo, Japan

2006 “Itsuo Kiritani Solo Exhibition ” ( over 100 new works shown ), Ginza Matsuzakaya Department Store, Tokyo, Japan

2008 “Itsuo Kiritani Solo Exhibition ” (over 100 new works shown), Ginza Matsuzakaya Department Store, Tokyo, Japan

2009 “Japanese Contemporary Art Exhibition”, Shanghai, China (by Invitation)

2010 Solo Exhibition, “Life is Music”, Gallery PaMa,Tokyo

2010 Solo Exhibition, Korea Art Center, Seoul, Korea

2011 Solo Exhibition, “Realism and Fantasy”, Gallery PaMa, Tokyo

2012 Solo Exhibition, “Musical Infinity”,Gallery PaMa, Tokyo”

2014 Solo Exhibition, “American Scene, People and Their Life”, Isetan Fuchu, Tokyo

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