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Herald Tribune asahi
Japanese People Do Not Know Japan
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Born in the house of an art dealer
As I wrote in a previous article, (the first part of the fifth series, which is available at fuji-torii.com), the current art market is dominated by global financial capital, and the evaluation and pricing of works of art around the world is confused. Although recently the number of opportunities for me to write articles or produce art works or paintings has been increasing, I am originally the owner of Fuji-Torii, a shop selling antiques, arts and crafts. Born into a family of fine arts dealers that has been active over three generations, I have been surrounded by works of art for as long as I can remember. Since childhood I have subconsciously learned of the spirit of creativity, influenced by the painters and craft workers whom our shop dealt with. I also created paintings, designs and plastic works of art at an art club when I was a student.
 
During my training, everyday I bought and sold at art auctions where tens of thousands of works from all over the world were collected, regardless of genre, and I saw numerous examples of architecture and fine arts at historic sites and museums overseas. Since my mid-20s, I have single-handedly managed the shop's buying activities. Through my own experience of seeing and actually buying and selling a huge amount of art, I came to doubt the present evaluation and dealing of fine arts, and started to write the fifth series in order to sound an alarm. .
 
 
The truth becomes obvious
Under such circumstances, I hope to write about the true value and price of fine arts, revealing details of the trade and distribution of fine arts that may be unfamiliar to lay persons, and increasing awareness and recognition of fine arts as well as the concept of beauty. Put simply, why are there different prices for two types of works that seem to be similar?
 
For example, I will explain why the price of some ceramics are a few hundred dollars while other ceramics sell at a much higher price, such as an old Chinese ceramic that recently attracted attention within the art market after it was sold for ten million dollars at auction, even though these items may seem to be similar.
 
I will write about the concept of beauty that I have been used to and have learned of since my childhood; the meaning and value of fine arts; and their prices and distribution. As an active art dealer, I wish to reveal the truth to as many as readers as possible, to engender familiarity with fine arts and simultaneously dispel any doubts or distrust held concerning fine arts. First, I will write of the concept of beauty.
 
 
Basic premise
Please keep in mind that, as a basic premise, there are two types of beauty and four kinds of arts. The two types of beauty are naturally occurring beauty and artificial beauty. The four kinds of arts indicate collectors' items, academic value, pure arts and fine arts. In this article, I will focus on the difference between the two types of beauty.
 
Works of art range across genres such as paintings, sculptures, ceramics, lacquer ware, dyeing and garments, even if we limit our view to Japanese art only. Regardless of genre, artworks are divided into two types. One such type is entirely created by man: in other words, it is an artificial beauty. The other type is naturally occurring beauty, such as pottery without painted decoration, which is created by fire and other natural causes. This natural type includes contemporary art that presents beauty through performances.
 
I believe and hope that people can recover the kindness of human nature if I can help preserve and pass on the Japanese language and culture, which have been deteriorating very rapidly under the name of a global standard, and continue in my efforts to transmit the essence of the Japanese mind and the Japanese way to people of the world.
 

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Created by man or by nature
Of course, although this categorization is not limited to artworks and can similarly be applied to the things around you, differences between the two types are an important point when trying to comprehend works of art. Artificial beauty has been pursued through culture and a long history: it is created by a person's awareness and the individual's energy to receive evaluation from others. On the other hand, naturally occurring beauty is the beauty of chance operation, borrowing energy from nature and the cosmos, and it is evaluated by people and society after it is created.
 
For example, beauty that is seen in classic or modern works of Nihonga (Japanese paintings) and lacquer ware, which is a representative art of Japan, is created by artists who continue to enhance their techniques and spirituality. Irrespective of whether it is appreciated by people, such beauty has been accepted by all people and is evaluated consistently, regardless of societal changes or the passing of time. Pottery such as Bizen-yaki and Shigaraki-yaki, or ceramics with natural paintings, which were originally created for daily use, and wooden folk art that enables you to appreciate its handmade quality, are fine arts created by the awareness of people who have evaluated them. I will examine the two concepts of beauty in greater detail in my next column.
 
Please send your comment or opinion to hadv@asahi.com
 
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