Biography Konoshima, ‘koku 木島 桜谷 (1877 - 1938)
Konoshima ‘koku was born in Kyoto in 1877. As a second son he was sent to study at the local industrial school, but his urge to paint prevailed and in 1893 he gave this up and became a pupil of both Imao Keinen (ShijŰ school) and of Yamamoto Keigu, a Confucian scholar of Chinese calligraphy and medicinal herbs.
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His work shows great energy and diversity and a strong personal style, his excellence particularly showing in his treatment of animal subjects. He became most famous for his six-panel screens in which scenes of silence are a key-element. From 1899 to 1933 he exhibited in many national exhibitions. He joined the Bunten judging committee in 1913 as the natural successor of his teacher Keinen.
Apart from screens, ‘koku produced numerous sketches of rare plants from the various regions of Japan, and paintings of animals, landscapes, and bird and flower scenes.
His popularity strongly declined in the Showa period, because he refused to adapt to the changing tastes and demands of the period. He withdrew from the world of exhibitions to concentrate on calligraphy and poetry, but even so his critics did not leave him in peace.
He died by suicide 1938.
Of his late works several are known to have boxes signed by his wife selling his paintings after his death.
Araki, Tsune (ed), Dai Nihon shŰga meika taikan, Tokyo 1975 (1934), p.2756
Morioka, Michiyo and Paul Berry, Modern Masters of Kyoto, Seattle 1999, pp. 206-211
Roberts, Laurance P., A Dictionary of Japanese artists, New York, 1976, p.89
See also paintingss from Imao, Keinen 今尾 景年 (1845-1924)