"HISUMI" Solo Exhibition by Yuki Nishimoto

2022.05.11(Wed) – 2022.05.16(Mon)

YUGEN Gallery is holding the exhibition "HISUMI" by sumi-e artist Yuki Nishimoto from Wednesday, May 11 to Monday, May 16, 2022.

Momentary and Eternal Blow

"You a spade, I'm an ofay… Let's blow!" (In other words, “You’re black, I’m white. So what if we’re different—let’s jam!”)

(From Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz, by Donald L. Maggin, translated into Japanese by Haruki Murakami, Shinchosha Publishing Co.)

The words of jazz trombonist Jack Teagarden when he met Louis Armstrong burst with the excitement of meeting and his enduring respect. Yuki Nishimoto's sumi-e (India ink) paintings embody this discourse of black and white.

Sumi-e artist Yuki Nishimoto is attracting attention around the world, with his visual images used in international sports events and other venues. He has made a name for himself painting sports motifs in energetic brushstrokes, but he also paints traditional sumi-e motifs such as dragons and tigers as well as landscapes. Since 2016, he has been expanding the boundaries of sumi-e, creating ceramic ink paintings that combine sumi-e and ceramic tiles.

The sensation of being alive that inhabits sumi-e

Barely contained energy is a common thread that runs through all of Nishimoto's artworks. The inspiration for this is his abiding love of sports, which he has played since a young age along with drawing pictures. The beauty of the rippling muscles and physical movement of his subjects, like blurred photos that capture a moment of sports competition, impart the sensation of being alive.

Nishimoto does not like to retouch his paintings after he has painted them, and ultimately came to approach artistic expression as a one-shot, make-or-break creation. He arrived at the medium of sumi-e after exploring various other media including oils, watercolors, sketching and acrylic paints. Nishimoto works in the intensity of the moment without a safety net for mistakes—for him, there is no going back the instant his brush makes contact.

His style of painting begins with careful observation of the subject and creating a number of sketches before painting the work in one go. The end result sparks the imagination of the viewer, with compositions that intentionally feel off balance or lack shadows that would normally be present.

Unlike Western-style painting with its focus on representational production, ink paintings are more subjective, not only in the depiction of form but also in the painter's interpretation of the nature of the subject. According to Nishimoto, the concentration, bleeding, blurring and gradation of India ink impregnating white paper contain hundreds of colors within the black and white, and viewers will sense a different color palette in each painting. This may be why some people who see Nishimoto's artworks feel like they contain red even though they are monotone.

The "Six Principles" of Chinese painting have been passed down through the ages in China and offer important lessons for painting and viewing ink paintings. Of these principles, "spirit resonance" describes capturing the vitality or energy of the subject. Unlike in China where paintings stay within the bounds of realism, greater freedom of expression is pursued in Japan, where paintings that depict the dynamism of life captured in light and air are favored. As described by art historian Sir Kenneth Clark, landscape paintings must not simply record a scene, but must express the feelings of the painter when looking at the specific scene and be painted with an abundance of humanism.

Expressing permanence: Ceramic sumi-e paintings

For live painting events, Nishimoto decides the theme and prepares by making a series of detailed sketches. Nevertheless, he may end up painting something completely different at the event itself. It's not uncommon for him to take in the atmosphere and switch themes on the spot. According to Nishimoto, "Ink and paper are sacred ground for me, and I won't take up the brush unless I have that mindset. This intensity of feeling is transmitted to my work, and as such is the lifeblood of my artistic activities."

In 2015, Nishimoto took up ceramic sumi-e painting at the invitation of a ceramic artist of Echizen ware, one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan. He paints on unglazed ceramic tiles, layering colors using special-purpose glazes, which are ultimately fired at 1,200℃ to create semi-permanent works. In contrast to his sumi-e paintings and live paintings created in the moment, these works could be termed an attempt at permanence. From the flow of the brush strokes to the coloration, ceramic tiles create a world completely different from Japanese washi paper. Along with establishing his acclaimed style of India ink painting, he has also opened up new possibilities for sumi-e paintings.

"At first, the idea was to paint on ceramic tiles in the style of sumi-e painting, but I couldn't picture what the final result would be based on how the glazes were mixed together, the color of the clay, the temperature in the kiln and the season. I found the hues to be interesting. I ran into a lot of difficulties from the ceramic tiles breaking and other failures, but after six years I was finally able to get the colors I wanted and the breadth of my expression has broadened."

With this, Nishimoto moved his production activities to Fukui Prefecture and has discovered new forms of expression with not only Echizen ware but also from meeting washi paper artisans. Like the interactions of clay, water, fire and wind in pottery, the discourse of time-honored techniques brings new perspectives to the other artists as well.

Declaration of breaking one's own shell

"To be honest, before I didn't really like talking to people. But through my artwork and activities, I've met people and feel like my horizons have been broadened. Even one word that comes out of a conversation can lead to the creation of a work from the impact of discovering something that I don't have. This has made me see how special everyday activities are."

Nishimoto says that when he started these activities, he didn’t approach other people and didn't even like art. This closed-off attitude stemmed from his own vulnerability, and his powerful and intense style can be viewed as accepting his vulnerability as well as a declaration to overcome it.

"Looking back at my past works as well, I feel how I was weak. I'm timid, and then try to accurately depict subjects. But my creations are a way to break through this complex of mine, and I feel like sumi-e is my way of overcoming my vulnerability."

He's started producing works in Fukui, which is blessed with natural beauty, and says that while he's also become interested in expression that is not only about energetic movement, he is pursuing expression with an even stronger feel than before. This exhibition contains works intentionally created with more energy of movement than past works, and suggests that Nishimoto is confident that his ink paintings have more room to evolve.

"The world is full of bad news, but that's all the more reason to have a heart and put your emotions out there." Improvisation happens when you engage with others and push yourself. This is the momentary and eternal blow. Like wind instruments in jazz, Nishimoto puts all of his body and spirit into his brush and ink. For people seeing his art, this intensity becomes the thrill of seeing him break through his shell.

Highlights of works

Musashi (giclee for sale)

genesis (giclee for sale)

Ryu-un ("Dragon cloud") (giclee for sale)

Hanki Hitoyari ("Rider with spear") (ceramic tile painting)

Shigen Ryuten ("Primordial dragon") (ceramic tile painting)

Shakudo Toppa ("Breaking through the hot road") (ceramic tile painting)

*Some of the works on display are subject to change. please note that.

Live painting event

Yuki Nishimoto will start painting at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 14.

Please note that admission to this event is limited to invited guests, and admission for the general public ends at 4:00 p.m.

Taiwanese beverage manufacturer King Car Group, which is launching its products in Japan, is sponsoring the event, and guests will receive complimentary Buckskin beer from King Car.

Buckskin beer is specially brewed in the traditional style of Germany, where beer was born, with a commitment to crafting authentic beer styles using only 100% malt and natural hops, yeast and the same renowned natural spring water as Kavalan whisky

Enjoy the great taste of Buckskin beer while watching Nishimoto paint in front of you.

Sales of works

At the same time as the exhibition is held, it will be possible to view and purchase the works on the YUGEN Gallery official online store.



"Ryu no Kiseki" (Miracle of the Dragon),Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan


"Nishimoto Yuki: Ceramic Ink Painting Exhibition," Artglorieux GALLERY OF TOKYO, Tokyo, Japan



Clio Entertainment, Bronze Award



"Hakai to Sozo" (Destruction and Creation) solo ceramic ink painting exhibition



"Earth—Sosei no Toki" (Earth—Carvings of Formation) ceramic ink painting exhibition, Path of Philosophy, Kyoto, Japan



"Sumi no sai: Yakudo suru sumi-e-tachi" (Ink festival: Sumi-e artists making moves), The Museum of Art, Kochi, Kochi, Japan



Nihon suibokuga zenshi (Complete history of Japanese ink painting), by Tadashi Kobayashi, Kodansha Ltd.; Turner, World of Art Vol. 18, second edition, Shueisha Inc.

Yuki Nishimoto


sumi-e artist Born in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Unbound by traditional techniques, he develops works that pursue "dynamism" and "strength" with a touch that combines boldness and delicacy. He often shows "live painting" at international events and TV programs, and was invited to the Hong Kong Christie's auction, where the sumi-e he drew immediately after the LIVE was sold for HK$85,000 (approximately 1.3 million yen). be. From classic motifs such as dragons and samurai to novel motifs such as athletes and musicians. In 2015, he released a new contemporary art piece "Tobokuga" with Nishimoto's sumi-e touch. By painting with glaze on a clay plate and firing it at a high temperature, it is a work that has a lively touch that will not fade for a thousand years. In February 2016, the first “Yuki Nishimoto Tobokuga Gallery” in Japan opened in Fukui Prefecture, where his production base is located. In January 2018, his first solo exhibition “Ryu no Kiseki Exhibition” held at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum attracted 45,000 visitors in one month and became a huge hit, setting a record for the museum’s attendance. In addition, he is active on the world stage with an unconventional style, such as solo exhibitions and live performances in Europe, the United States, China, etc., CG and videos, and collaborations with various fields.

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exhibition period

2022.05.11(Wed) - 2022.05.16(Mon)


YUGEN Gallery


Token International Building 3F, 2-12-19 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Opening hours


Weekdays: 14:00 - 19:00
Saturdays and Sundays: 13:00 - 19:00
*Ends at 17:00 on the last day only


Writer's day

May 15th

closing day


Admission fee



*Please note that the exhibition period and opening hours may change without notice depending on the situation.