Bijinga (美人画) translates as “beautiful woman picture” in Japanese, and the paintings under this genre are nothing if not true to their name. During the emergence of ukiyo-e woodblock paintings as an art form, women became a favorite subject among the era’s artists, and thus, the genre was born.

Since artists had to depict how women appeared in front of them, bijinga can serve as a great glimpse into what Japan was like during the 17th to 19th century. Bijinga painters showed the typical attire a Japanese woman wore at the time, and some even took it a step further by showing women doing daily activities and presented us with what everyday life was like back then.

As Japan received more influences from the West and newer technology like photography became more commonplace, bijinga and ukiyo-e in general saw a decline in popularity. But despite this, the art form never truly disappeared. Even in the 21st century, there are still some Japanese artists that have adapted bijinga to a more modern audience while staying true to the core of what defined the genre.

One artist that’s renowned for this is Ichiro Tsuruta. His paintings pay homage to the bijinga artists of old by using simple lines and clean colors to allow his subjects to be the main focus. Some of his paintings also incorporate newer hairstyles and clothing, so that there’s no mistaking that these are very much modern women.

This master of modern bijinga paintings is set to hold a solo exhibition at an Osaka art gallery in January 2021. The exhibition will include around 60 different paintings and admission will be free, so fans can admire the beauty of his work at no cost.

You can read the details for the exhibition below, or you can also visit the gallery’s Japanese website where they’ve included a poster for the event.

Ichiro Tsuruta Bijinga Exhibition

  • Date: January 1-24, 2021 (Closed on January 13 & 14)
  • Hours: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Address: Tempozan Gallery, 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, 552-0022
  • Admission: Free
  • Gallery Website (Japanese)

By - Jen Laforteza.