Japanese Aesthetics: Featured Artist – Kazuo Ishii

Count yourselves lucky, for today you are going to see the work of Calligrapher and Ink painter, Kazuo Ishii. It’s not every day that you meet such an established Japanese Artist in Israel.

I have known Kazuo for a few years now and have been planning to visit his studio in Kiryat Tivon in the North of Israel, but haven’t gotten there yet. However, I won’t hold back the wonders of his work from you because I am too lazy.

I love Japanese aesthetics. It is simple and powerful. Like this painting, entitled “Flow”.


The whole painting embodies the word “Flow”, and is painted in a style called “Gyosho” which looks very free, but don’t be fooled, there are rules and regulations to follow in order to achieve this result.

Kazuo has been practicing the art since the tender age of 9. He studied seal making, an art in itself, as well as ink painting, which takes its inspiration from calligraphy (ancient Chinese and Japanese characters).

Kazuo’s work manages to amaze me in its passion and simplicity. This one is “Mountain”.

He also makes poetry scrolls like this Zen Haiku in Kana Script below which is a kind of cursive calligraphy style made up of syllables of Japanese characters as opposed to the above characters, which represent a whole word and were adopted from ancient Chinese characters.


Here are a few of Kazuo’s Ink paintings, which are equally as beautiful as the calligraphy. I find them very tranquil. This one is called “Poppy”


Lovely Lotus…


And, of course, a subject I can’t overlook, Bamboo.  This one belongs to the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art in Haifa. I love the sense of distance that one gets from this painting.

Bamboo - The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art

Bamboo_and_poem_by_Ikkyu - The Israel Museum of Art

And one must not forget the white plum blossom. Gorgeous!


Kazuo’s studio is open for visits, all you need to do is contact Shira and she can set up a time for you. Just before Pesach there is an event called “Shabbat Omanim” which means Artists’ Saturday. All over Tivon artists open their studios and you can walk around and visit studios and buy works of art. I’ve done it a few times, it’s great.

Kazuo also teaches calligraphy and ink painting courses in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. I’ve taken a beginner’s calligraphy course and it was great.

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