Kukai : Sun and Moon : Paintings by Ken Matsubara | Grand Opening Exhibition at 32 E 67th street gallery

Benevolent Painting


The Kuroshio Current that flows along Japan’s south-eastern coastline creates powerful eddies around the sunken rocks while the raging waves thunder against the coast, raising fine spray.  The sun rises in the sky, day by day, while at night the silver light of the moon shines through the darkness as it waxes and wanes.  

It was to here, to this remote corner of Japan, that the young Kūkai came, his heart captivated by the mysteries of the universe as he sought to comprehend the unknowable enigma of life.  He lived in a cave, reciting mantras, as he carried out his ascetic training, day and night. 

1,200 years later, the painter Ken Matsubara visited the same spot in order to experience the same scenery as Kūkai.  The ‘KŪKAI’ series that resulted from this experience consists of paintings on 24 sliding doors into which he single-mindedly devoted his whole being.  We can almost hear the crashing of the waves as the sun and moon climb into the limitless skies.  We can also experience the flash of light from Venus that was to shock Kūkai into enlightenment.  Matsubara’s mentor, Sankō Inoue (1899–1981), said that an artist should not simply look at a subject, but try to enter inside it and Matsubara continues this practice today, working earnestly to interact with nature and people.  When standing in front of his paintings, we are filled with a feeling of benevolence and a realization that it is fine for people to live as part of nature.  His paintings represent a great affirmation of life.  

We are extremely grateful to be able to open our new gallery with Ken Matsubara’s KŪKAI: Sun and Moon.

 Shoko Aono