By Aya Matsuoka
Taiwa Matsuoka was born in Hifu, Nara (presently Hifu, Haibara district, Uda, Nara, in Japan), and spent his boyhood in Nara until moving to Tokyo. During the Taisho and Showa eras (1912 – his last year, 1975), when Taiwa was actively pursuing his art career, the sphere of Japanese art was shifting from the introduction period to the incunabula of Western fine arts. Amid that Western trend, Taiwa worked on his own, seeking to take techniques from traditional Japanese fine arts, blend them with Western fine arts and establish his own art world, called “Urushi-e.” Incidentally, his birthplace, Haibara, was the site of an ancient nurube or Urushi lacquer village, so that Taiwa’s destiny was linked to Urushi.
Taiwa spent his young adulthood during a tempestuous time, when the world was headed into war. Despite being under the dark misery of militaristic national propaganda, the subjects of Taiwa’s artworks included a show dancer, a group of nude females and a view of a highland ranch. As a young adult, when the war had become a full-scale conflict, he showed his true worth by devoting his passion to art education as a young adult. After World War II, he pursued his active artistic career, including a tapestry depicting a knight drinking beer. At the time this was one of the pioneer commercial artworks in Japan.
Taiwa loved to draw more than anything else, so he was careful that his words would not scatter or obscure his artworks. Because I was a family member of Taiwa, I remained a tremendous admirer of his artworks. Whenever I saw him working on a project, his serious passion and devotion for Urushi artwork would endlessly pour forth out of his soul. I feel that Taiwa lived a fulfilled life as a man who was fortunate to have discovered the passion of his dream.
On November 8, 2006, Mrs. Aya Matsuoka passed away. It was just after the drafts for the website had been completed and informational materials were returned to her. It is our hope that visitors to this site will enjoy the wonderful world of Urushi artworks and share the passion of Taiwa and Aya to fulfill the dreams of their shared destiny. (By Yaeko Yoshizawa, copywriter)