Shiga Museum of Art


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About Ogura Yuki

Modern Japanese-style painter Ogura Yuki was born in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture. A pioneering female artist in Japan, she studied under Yasuda Yukihiko, was an active member of the Japan Art Institute, and became its first female chairperson. She continued to paint until her death at the age of 105, and her life was an inspiration to many.

The Shiga Museum of Art possesses approximately 60 works by Ogura, among the largest number of any collection in Japan. In our galleries, there is an Ogura Yuki Corner where her works can be viewed at any time.

*Around 20 works are on display at all times. The works on view are periodically exchanged. Please see the Exhibitions / Events page for details.

Ogura Yuki was born on March 1, 1895 in Maruya-cho, Otsu City, Shiga-gun, Shiga Prefecture (present-day Chuo 1-chome, Otsu City). After graduating from Shiga Prefectural Otsu Girl’s High School, she enrolled at Nara Women’s Higher Normal School (the predecessor of Nara Women’s University) in 1913. As a student she discovered the joy of painting, and while teaching at a high school in Yokohama, she studied under Yasuda Yukihiko. In 1926 her work was selected for the first time for the Japan Art Institute Exhibition. In 1932 she was the first woman to be recommended as a member of the Institute, in 1976 she became a member of the Japan Art Academy, and in 1980 she was awarded the Order of Culture. She also served as the Institute’s chairperson. She continued working actively until her death on July 23, 2000 at the age of 105.

Many of Ogura’s works are portraits and still lifes depicting familiar subjects. The pure colors, thick bold lines, and clearly defined shapes that emerge from them clearly show a modern sensibility grounded in a rich feeling for everyday life, while also conveying East Asia spirituality. The late 1920s and 1930s, when she became fully active, was a time when post-Meiji (1868-1912) modern Japanese-style painting had reached a zenith and new directions were being sought. Her painting career, which developed during these times, can be seen as introducing revolutionary change to Japanese-style painting in the mid-20th century.

Ogura Yuki’s works overflow with varied charms: dignified portraits underpinned by a keen observational eye, still lifes that convey profound spirituality even at small sizes, Bodhisattva figures that seem about to gently speak to the viewer. These elegant and tension-filled paintings testify to the significant mark that Yuki left on her time.

The evolution of Ogura’s style can be broadly divided into four periods.
From the 1910s to 1950s, when she began painting, until around 1950, it was characterized by detailed rendering and crisp compositions. Between 1951 to 1965, she made major strides by studying Western painters such as Matisse and Picasso and daringly incorporating the results into an eagerly awaited new style of Japanese-style painting for a new postwar era. In her works from around 1966 to around 1976, we see Ogura’s unique style reach well-rounded maturity. Her subsequent work, from 1977 and until her death in 2000, will astound the viewer with its ceaseless creativity.