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The Road Leads Far Away

Masao Takenaka
Honorary President of the Asian Christian Art Association
and Honorary Professor of Doshisha University

(06/28/2001) As I remember, the first time I participated in a meeting on Christian art in Japan was the meeting held by Waseda Hoshien in November 1965. It was significant around that time Waseda Hoshien has organized the Christian Art Exhibition four times in every November from 1965-68. (Waseda Hoshien, 90 Years Anniversary Book, 1908-1998) It was a small beginning, yet an exciting step dreaming the future of Christian art in this country. This meeting became an occasion to form the Japan Christian Art Association.

In June 1973, the Association organized the first exhibition at St. Ignatius Cathedral in Tokyo in which nine artists from Catholic and Protestant Churches participated. It is significant to celebrate the 25th Anniversary Exhibition this year.
Certainly it is a joy to express our sense of thanksgiving, recollecting the journey taken thus far in the past twenty-five years. At the same time we remember those who worked together and passed away such as Ranson Yamamoto, Keiji Kosaka, Akio Shinozaki, Rei Karnoi, Yoshihei Miya, Sadao Watanabe, and Tadao Tanaka, who was really an inspiring leader of the association.

We now see the struggling faces of contemporary Japanese people who are somewhat confused and dismayed in the midst of economic depression, social disintegration and the political uncertainty. Underneath all these, we find the moral and religious questions.

We grasp the task of Christian artists as being to respond to the deep questions of anxiety in the world in the light of the Christian Gospel.

Reflecting on the past development of the Japan Christian Art Association, I would like to depict the following points for the future work.

  1. It is good that the Japan Christian Art Association has kept its emphasis on the quality of art work rather than the quantity of artists to enter. We firmly believe a deep art work has a universal influence. Religious art should be respected as authentic art not merely because it has a religious theme.
  2. In this sense we should pay more attention to the works which may not directly take a religious theme but are produced with a religious style regardless of whether the author is Christian or non-Christian.
  3. At the same time we need constantly to open our eyes to discover new artists and help them to make further development.
  4. It would be good to enhance the contact with Christian artists in Asia for mutual stimulation.
  5. While the programs of the association are carried by the artists themselves, it would be good to organize a supportive circle to strengthen the work of the association.

As the ancient Chinese poet Li Shao, who experienced suffering and suppression, expressed "Though the road leads far away, I will continue to search for truth all along the way", we will march on with hope based on the Biblical faith. (taken from "The History of 25th Art Exhibitions", The Christian Art Association in Japan, 2001)

© Asian Christian Art Association