Hiroshi Senju

Hiroshi Senju is a painter. He was born in Tokyo, Japan. He completed a Ph.D Program in Fine Arts at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1987. Senju has had a number of solo shows and participated in group exhibitions in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Some of his more recent exhibitions include Beauty Project at the Museum of Contemporary Art in London in 1996, and a tour of fourteen Japanese cities of his acclaimed waterfall paintings. In 1995 he became the first Asian artist to receive an individual fine arts award at the Venice Biennale. Hiroshi Senju lives and works in Japan and New York.

Selected Objects

  Attributed to Lou Guan (active mid- to late 13th century)
Xie An at East Mountain

Southern Song to Yuan period, late 13th century
Hanging scroll; ink and slight color on silk
69 x 34 3/4 in. (175.3 x 88.3 cm); 1979.123

The elderly figure by the falls is depicted as a spirit of landscape herself, seemingly about to disappear into the landscape. The waterfalls symbolize life itself, permeating the entire painting with their spray. The cosmos is represented by the negative space (yohaku) behind the trees. This could be categorized as a portrait of a god as understood by the Eastern mind.





Guan Si (active about 1590-1630)
Landscapes in the Manner of Old Masters (four leaves)
possibly Ming period, 17th century
Album of ten leaves; ink and light color on paper
Each 10 3/4 x 7 1/8 in. (27.3 x 18.1 cm); 1980.1.1-10


Perhaps it is in a dream that we see this sort of a landscape. Unconsciously, we have an experience of immediate recognition, an experience perhaps imbedded in our DNA. This landscape has an element of universal familiarity and nostalgia.


We see a house on top of rocks, ships in a bay, and mountains. And yet what is really depicted is the empty space itself (Yohaku). What the artist was trying to depict is layers of airspace. The most important element of this work is in the yohaku itself.

Here we have a bridge. After we walk across the bridge we find a road and a mountain. The viewer is led into the painting naturally. This work captures well the Eastern technique of developing depth, as contrasted with the Western technique of creating perspective.


What is the ideal picture of the world? Sitting in a shadow of a huge rock, alone in a sunhut by pine trees, listening to the creek nearby. We sense the cool air emanating from the entire picture. What is he thinking? Are we not like this person? Is this not the ideal place?



Various collectors over time each stamped his seal upon this painting. It is evident from these many seals that this painting was valued for hundreds of years. Quite bold and honest, this painting is worthy of such attention.



This landscape is painted with a masterful combination of strong and delicate brushstrokes, as well as dark and light sumi washes. This can be a textbook to teach us how an artist sees a landscape. The best part is, we see the joy of painting depicted in such strokes.



This artist clearly loved this place he painted. So he paints with warmth and delight. We can also sense such joy in looking at the work. This is a portrait of the artist's heart.



In Chinese art theory there are categories of 1) a place you want to see, 2) a place you want to play at, 3) a place you want to live, or 4) a place you desire to die in. This landscape seems to be of the last category.



There are landscapes we can only see in experiencing a sort of death. This type of landscape does not lose relevance for hundreds of years. And it transcends cultural barriers. Art captures such a place.



A river flows down from the mountains. When the boat stops, we climb up the steps to the house. The traveler is keenly aware of the island with many pine trees. I am amazed at the power of this type of art to allow me to walk right into the landscape. Where have we come from, and where have we gone? This work captures the passing of time itself.