INSPIRED by travel, the human form and Nihonga – a traditional Japanese painting technique – Satsuki Kitaguchi’s art is instilled with a bold style that takes on a different look and feel with each work.
IN all her paintings, whether they are of travel memories, nudes, or stills, Satsuki use Nihonga style – paintings that have been made in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and materials. The term was coined in the Meiji Period (1868 until 1912) to distinguish such works from Western-style paintings.
Paintings made using Nihonga style present quite an elaborate process for artists. But, this is what makes Satsuki’s works so beautiful. Typically executed on washi (Japanese paper) or eginu (silk), Nihonga paintings can take on either a monochrome or polychrome visual. Satsuki’s paintings are quite rich in colour and striking.
If Nihonga paintings are monochrome, the artist will typically use sumi (Chinese ink) made from soot mixed with glue derived from fishbone or animal hide. If polychrome, the colours are derived from natural ingredients: minerals, shells, corals and even semi-precious stones like malachite, azurite
To make the paint, Satsuki will formulate powder into 16 gradations, from fine to sandy grain textures. A hide-glue solution called nikawa is used as a binder for these powdered pigments. Originally, this style was used for hanging scrolls and hand scrolls or folding screens. However, most paintings done in this style today are now produced on paper stretched onto wood panels, suitable for framing.
Satsuki is quite a prominent Hokkaido artist and a high-school art teacher in Sapporo. She has had her works featured in many galleries around Japan, and has received recognition for her contribution
to preserving Nihonga techniques.
A sample of her works can be viewed at Hirafu’s new photography, art and antique space Momiji Gallery, located in Momiji Street, Hirafu.