TUCKED away behind tall snow banks on Route 343 sits ST Gallery, the home of beautiful Niseko inspired paintings and photographs.
SOON after Tokumaru-san, a former banker, moved to Niseko he found artistic creativeness in the tangled roots of trees. Overtime,however, his paintings incorporated a deeper spiritual meaning. This led him to experiment with paintings other than those of trees. Looking around the gallery, the walls are decorated with paintings of Mount Yotei, vegetables, fruit, lone trees and people.
Every artist has his or her own form of inspiration. For Tokumaru-san it’s the idea and sentiment of ‘ki’. Personally he feels that ‘ki’ is a familiar idea for most Japanese, but he also acknowledges it’s a hard concept to completely comprehend. Looking up the Japanese character ‘ki’ in the dictionary, you’ll find words such as ‘taiki’ (atmosphere), ‘tenki’ (weather), ‘kion’ (temperature) and ‘shikke’ (humidity). Most of these are related to weather and nature. However, you’ll also find the words ‘genki’ (health), ‘kibun’ (feeling), ‘kifuu’ (character), ‘ninki’ (popularity), and ‘yuuki’ (courage), which are related to mental and physical situations. To Tokumaru-san, ‘ki’ is a combination of the physical and natural energy that flows within our universe. Tokumaru-san tries to incorporate his idea of ‘ki’ into his paintings; often they have feint white spots on them, either above a tree, or above Mount Yotei, which depict the energy flow of ‘ki’.
Looking around ST Gallery, Tokumaru-san’s paintings are definitely inspired by the Niseko area. He paints trees that stand alone, breathing quietly in the fields. His paintings of Mount Yotei are dreamy and mystical in appearance, and the colours he uses are vivid, but simultaneously soft. Some paintings are life-size and others are smaller, but each shows a clear view of Tokumaru-san’s traditional Japanese comprehension of ‘ki’.
ST Gallery also houses a selection of his son’s photograph’s, taken mainly of Hangetsu Lake at the base of Mount Yotei.