Ikuo Hirayama: Turkey, A Crossroad of Culture between West and East
Ikuo Hirayama, one of the most well known representatives of Japanese-style painting Nihonga, took the Silk Road as the main theme of his paintings and paid several visits to Turkey throughout his more than 100 journeys to this route.
Hirayama was appointed as Japan's first Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO in 1988 and Special Advisor to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1995. He emphasized the cultural exchange with his visits and research to the Middle East as well as his art focusing on the ancient ruins. The artist who passed away in 2009, is now visiting Turkey -the meeting point of West and East in his own words, with his paintings.
Exhibition Brochure (PDF)
The Silk Road - My Destiny
"The Silk Road was my destiny. When I set foot on the sites of the Silk Road -along which Buddhism had been propagated to the East in ancient times- I felt the long history there and found how expansive they were both in terms of time and space. The road reminded me how the 17-year journey of Xuanzang (600-664) -a high-ranking monk during the Tang Dynasty who sought the Buddhist faith in India- was so incredibly difficult and ascetic. Since then, I have traveled to the sites of the Silk Road many times to follow Xuanzang's journey. China, U.S.S.R., Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, West Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq. At a certain point I realized that I had traveled along the Silk Road more than 40 times. Nevertheless, it is difficult to say exactly what the Silk Road is.
I am especially inspired by the landscape of the desert. There are no beautiful mountains and rivers, but the monotonous and timeless yellow world impresses me endlessly. Deserts bring before me the image of a myriad of people, putting their lives in danger, crossing between East and West and exchanging their culture."