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A Search for the Lost Time

HARUO SHIMADA painting exhibition | a la recherche du temps perdu 失われた時を求めて A Search for the Lost Time Haruo Shimada

First, I would like to welcome you all to my personal art exhibition.

You are probably wondering why I have chosen to open an exhibition now, at this point in my life, and perhaps more importantly why this exhibition is being held in Chanel's flagship store in the Ginza.

For me, this event is filled with strong aspirations, and, I daresay, the feeling that in some sense I am putting my life on the line.

Over 55 years ago, there was a period in my life where I was sincerely devoted to painting. I was instructed by the artist Kenzo Okada, who later became very active in New York. During this time I gained media attention as a mame-gahaku, or “budding professional painter”, and at one time appeared in the American pictorial magazine LIFE. However, after Master Okada moved to the U.S., I eventually put down my brush.

Following that brief period, I have spent the past half-century pursuing the path of the economist, both as a university professor and as a policy advisor to the government. Of course, during this time I have occasionally taken up the brush again. A few years ago, however, I became acquainted with Mr. Richard Collasse, President of CHANEL K.K., through my work for the government. We immediately found a kindred spirit in the other, and we made a promise to produce a novel-one with no connection to work-in which Richard would write the story and I would do the illustrations.

In order to accomplish these illustrations, I set up a studio on the coast of Izu Peninsula and began to paint again in earnest. Over more than half a century I have hardly painted at all, and so it was like starting from zero all over again. Many days of trial and error followed, filled with the inability to paint what I envisioned and sometimes a lack of any idea of even what kind of image I wanted to express. Regardless, this was a very exciting time for me.

When I first picked up the brush again, I was keenly interested in what kind of expressions I would fill the canvas with when I was thrown back into that artistic space. I was filled with anticipation, just like wondering whether you'll encounter your soul mate. It was elation like that of setting out on a journey of self discovery for a second time. And eventually, I felt that I had become able to paint images that truly came from my heart. I've made only a few pieces so far, and I feel that my skills are still woefully insufficient. Regardless, I decided to take the challenge of opening this exhibition for all of you to see.

Looking back on the memories from my youth, I now wish to use the next half of my life to enter a new world. I am filled with this desire. And I am also thrilled to have you all look at my humble works that are filled with these emotions.

Ⅱ. My Early Years of Painting

I am not exactly sure when it was that I began drawing, but from my earliest recollection I always loved pictures, and I recall drawing regularly with quite earnest intent.

Our yard in the early morning, just as the sun began to rise; the expressions of the goats and chickens that we raised at the house; the tranquil night scene of the bus path that my father would take me to, just after it rained裡スeven now, I remember these as vividly as if they were yesterday. I would fervently draw these scenes in crayon on pieces of coarse paper, and sometimes on newspaper.

At an early age I recall accompanying my two older brothers to the classroom of an art teacher from whom they were taking classes. When the students presented their work to the teacher, not only did he criticize their paintings, but he would even go so far as to paint on the students work, saying “There! Isn't that better?” When I looked at those paintings, I didn't feel that they were improved one bit. Seeing this kind of teaching struck an irritating chord in my young heart, and so I abandoned my visits.

It was around this time that my mother, learning from an acquaintance that a painter of some merit resided nearby, took me to visit his studio one day. I was slight of frame and prone to illness, and so my mother was probably eager to seize upon anything that could instill even the slightest bit of confidence in my young mind. The painter that she took me to visit that day turned out to be Kenzo Okada.

Master Okada had a distinguished mustache and the hale refinement of an Italian actor. Meeting us at the entryway to his studio, I recall his admonition to the effect that “This is not a place for children.” Later, most likely owing to fervent supplications by my mother, it was arranged that I would begin attending Master Okada's studio as his pupil.

Soon after, I arrived at Master Okada's studio clutching a highly varnished, shiny wooden box containing a brand-new painting set. It was tucked into a special cloth bag handmade for me by my mother. The other pupils in Master Okada's studio consisted of a number of middle-aged housewives and men of obvious wealth and means, and they all treated me with kindness and cordiality. The paintings' motifs were still lifes and nudes. The young women would undress and stand at the front of the studio, with the stove roaring brightly during cold days. Ensconced in the company of the adult pupils, it was all I could do to earnestly paint each motif.

Master Okada would often stand behind me as I worked intently, silently staring at my paintings. He was a taciturn teacher, but I could sense his presence and it left a strong impact on me. When he would stand behind me, I remember feeling a sense of elation, like my whole body had grown warm. Though he would make comments about our work, never once did he put his own brush to our canvases.

The Master and Mrs. Okada were a splendid pair. I recall my adoration for the figure of Master Okada as he faced the large canvas, pipe clenched between his lips, and likewise of his wife who, even to a child's mind, was possessed of an attractive beauty. They both doted on me as if I were their own child.

While I commuted to Master Okada's studio, at the behest of my parents I also actively participated in children's sketch contests, which were very big at the time, and where I won many awards. It seems that I earned somewhat of a reputation in the world of children's art, and I became the subject of various magazine articles. One day, a reporter from the American pictorial magazine LIFE came to do a story on me. The reporter gathered information both at my home and at Master Okada's studio. The article was included in the January 23, 1950 issue of the domestic U.S. edition.

I had just turned 6 years old when the reporter from LIFE came to observe me. Many years have passed since that time, and the copy of the magazine that I had eventually received grew battered and old. After becoming a researcher, I related this story to an academic friend of mine, Professor Robert Cole. Some time later Professor Cole came upon the issue in a used book store in Washington, DC, and sent me an almost-mint copy. In the same issue there was

a 7-page feature article on the founding of the new state of China. Several pages after was my 1-page article.

Not long after my appearance in LIFE magazine, the Master and Mrs. Okada left to pursue art in the new and hopeful environment of the United States. I went with my mother to Yokohama to see them off at the dock. At that time the President Wilson-a vessel from the American Presidents Line-handled the Pacific route. I remember Master Okada leaning out over the railing waving seven-color streamers. I stood there and watched until the white hull of the ship merged into the white line of the horizon.

At the time, Master Okada was apprehensive about the influence of post-war education and of the Japan Teachers Union, and it seems that he advocated that my parents enroll me in a special art education program rather than a standard school. To this end, he even introduced my parents to a female artist and close friend of his. Ultimately, however, it was decided that I would attend a nearby public elementary school.

I was still a slight boy of delicate health, but it also seemed that my painting activities were known by those in the education field, and so I was always given special treatment. While other students were given coarse paper to work with, I alone was given high-quality Kent paper. At talent shows and athletic festivals I would sit before everyone and sketch on a large piece of paper, and when it was done it would be presented before the whole student body. I began to feel uneasy about all of this special treatment and attention, and it eventually grew to be an issue that was difficult for me to except.

About this time I encountered something that had a spectacular impact on me. It happened when my mother took me to see a photo exhibition of cave art from Altamira, Spain that was being held at either Mitsukoshi or another department store. There were many old cave paintings of buffalo on display, one of which consisted of lines that seemed to be nothing more than scratches on the cave wall. Standing before those paintings, I recall being drawn to them for some reason, and for a while being unable to pull myself away from that spot.

To ancient Man, the buffalo was a vital source of food, and thus such cave paintings were probably made in the spirit of thanks to the animals. It was clear, however, that among these early artists there were some who, despite their obvious lack of skill, still tried earnestly to express their thoughts. I felt that I could sense those thoughts through the paintings.

The painter had, in those simple lines, included the fullness of everything. It was while observing these paintings that the following thoughts became clear in my mind: Painting is the most primitive and most pure among the various forms of art. This is because, in contrast to music, calligraphy, and other art forms that require special training, painting a picture requires no such practice. Furthermore, the materials are completely up to the artist's discretion; you can even draw a picture by painting on a wall with mud. A virtuoso or an amateur, it doesn't matter.

The only thing that matters is painting with all of your thoughts and emotion. To put it rather extremely, one may not need to paint, living is an art itself. I became convinced of these notions at age 9.

Soon it became time for me to enter middle school, and I began to study for entrance examinations. My goal was Keio Gijuku middle school. It was and still is a very popular private school with a strong reputation, with acceptance to the Futsubu division in particular known for its difficulty. At the time, the Futsubu received over 20 times the number of applications as there were openings. My parents thought that if I was able to enter Keio Gijuku middle school I could go on to Keio University without taking the entrance examination, and anticipated that this would leave me with more time to pursue painting. At any rate, I studied hard and was rewarded with entrance into the Futsubu with top marks. I didn't realize that I had scored at the top level until the first semester of school, when school officials designated me as a student officer of Class E, the school's highest class division.

Unfortunately, it was within this environment-one that my parents had hoped would be a catalyst for my art-that an incident occurred which would drive a decisive wedge between me and painting. Just as in elementary school, in the Futsubu as well the art teacher gave me special treatment, and not just in materials, but also in scoring. Though top marks for other students were set at 100 points, the teacher would reward me with 200 points or even 400 points. In any case, as I noted above, by this time I had come to believe that painting itself was life, and thus just as it is impossible to give a numeric score to someone's life, how could one pass judgment on someone's paintings? It seemed to me that the very act of giving a score was a desecration of that painting.

One day in class the art teacher picked up one of my paintings and stated simply, “I'll be taking this.” Clearly the teacher was thinking of donating the painting to be hung in the new art room that had just been completed, and was thus acting in good faith. Regardless, for me it was like having a child of my own flesh-and-blood being suddenly snatched away from me, and I simply could not accept the teacher's actions. I stopped by the faculty room and requested that he return my painting. I could sense that he was so angry at my forthrightness that he could not even open his mouth to speak, but I continued to demand that my painting be returned to me, and eventually he relented. This incident left me incredibly discouraged, and I rapidly lost the desire to paint.

The head of the Futsubu at that time was Professor Mitsuo Minemura, a very famous scholar on the philosophy of law and well known as the ultimate authority on labor law. Several decades after that incident with the art teacher, when I myself was an associate professor, I ran into Professor Minemura at a workgroup that I participated in. Calling me aside, he chatted with me about the events of those times. It seems that the Futsubu faculty had been split on the issue, with many arguing that expulsion was the proper recourse for a student who had behaved questionably like I had. Professor Minemura, however, took up the matter on my behalf. I learned from Professor Minemura for the first time that during this incident, my mother had been called to the school and warned a number of times. Even until the day she passed away, my mother never once spoke a word about those events.

At any rate, the incident with the art teacher caused me to almost completely give up painting. Though it may sound a bit precocious, I hung up my brush at the age of 13.

Ⅲ. Rediscovering painting


Roughly half a century has passed since that time. Counting the years since I used to commute to Master Okada's studio, it has now been 56 years.

When I entered middle school I was still very small of frame and slight of build, and so I devoted myself to sports in order to conquer these feelings of inferiority. Attracted by the potential for tossing aside larger adversaries with graceful hip throws, I joined the judo club. After coming down with a severe cold during midwinter training, however, I quit the judo club and threw myself devotedly into jogging. Jogging had appealed to me since watching the radiant performance of Emil Zapotek-a.k.a the Human Locomotive-during the Helsinki Olympics. When I entered Keio High School I was scouted as a coxswain for the boating club, since small and light individuals make ideal coxswains. I was made to do the same training as the larger crew rowers, and so my athleticism grew and I gained a strong and solid body like that of a true muscular specimen. At the time, the Japan Amateur Rowing Association had begun scouting five years in advance for a national crew to represent Japan in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. I was nominated as coxswain for the team.

We attended training camps for over 100 days out of the year, and underwent intense practice. Perhaps due to continuously sitting on the cold board of the boat in both wind and rain, I began to suffer painful hemorrhoids and had no choice but to relinquish my position. Several years later at the Tokyo Olympics, my friend and sub-coxswain was the one who appeared in the national team. Before graduation from high school, my father passed away after a long battle with cancer. At college, I was forced to work part-time jobs to pay for the majority of tuition.

At Keio University I entered the economics division and joined the English Club. It soon became clear that, in reality, there was a major gap in academic performance between my friends who had entered Keio by passing the difficult entrance examinations and me, which became a great frustration for me and a potential setback in the club. I decided then and there to quit the English Club and instead focused on my own method of independent English training. Later, at the All-Campus Speech Contest, I held my own against several expatriate Japanese students to win one of the top prizes, and thus was able to make a satisfying comeback.

After this I became involved in the national competition as the leader of the English Club's debate team, and when the Tokyo Olympics came I was selected as one of the Top 10 students out of 2000 students nationwide to act as a simultaneous translator. I was assigned to work with the head of one of the leading nation's Olympic delegations. But since the delegation wanted to hire an interpreter of their own language rather than English, the Japan Olympic Committee assigned me a free general job, and therefore, luckily, I was able to frequent a great many venues and matches. Seeing to the needs of various athletes from around the world, those were several months of my life that truly embodied the excitement of youth.

At graduation I was recognized as valedictorian of my class, and was told that I had achieved a record performance at the school. I thought about joining a company and going directly into the workforce, but my advisor, Professor Hisashi Kawada, strongly advised that I consider continuing on to graduate school. Possessing very little knowledge about the possibilities, I was seriously torn over which career path to choose. I knew that I wanted to contribute to the global community and to society in some form. This led me to think that, rather than a profession where just one person works on his or her own, education is the cultivation of many people, and thus it would be a meaningful profession and one with great significance. I thus decided to continue on the path of the scholar. I am still convinced that this was the right choice. I was selected as a special researcher and was given a generous scholarship, and I decided to pursue a Master's in labor economics and industrial relations. After completing my Master's I passed the screening for adjunct professor at Keio, and thus

secured the possibility for long-term employment as a faculty member at Keio University.

At this time, Japan was in the midst of rapid economic growth by introducing technologies from the developed countries in Europe and the U.S., by working diligently, and by maintaining high savings from export income. Japan learned a lot from the developed nations and especially from the U.S. during this time. I applied for a Fulbright Scholarship and received top endorsements in the field of economics. This allowed me to study abroad at Cornell University, which is famous for labor economics and industrial relations.

With the prospect of not returning to Japan for several years, I married Kimiko Nakazawa. Kimiko was the younger sister of my longtime friend since middle school, Hikohachi Nakazawa. Her family had run a sake shop in Tokyo for nearly 300 years, and she was the first Nakazawa woman in their history to marry outside of the Nakazawa family. Following the wedding, Kimiko came with me when I left to study at Cornell. Cornell University is a prestigious school located in northern New York, on the border of the glacial Cayuga Lake, and is known throughout the U.S. as having one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. It was here, surrounded by rich, verdant forests and spacious lawns where squirrels romped, that Kimiko and I began our newly married life together.

That winter, the state of New York was hit with heavy snowfall. Despite the conditions, Kimiko and I traveled to Master Okada's residence in downtown New York's Greenwich Village. He was struggling with heart disease but was still working. When we arrived at his house his wife greeted us warmly and with great hospitality, and we all talked for a very long time. We had a lot of catching up to do. I told Master Okada about how I'd become an economist, and he replied: “I hate bankers AND economists.” In fact, I later heard that after he moved to the U.S. he would sometimes muse with his wife, “I wonder if little Shimada-kun is painting splendid pictures now…” When spring came, Kimiko and I visited the Master in his large mansion in the town of Rensselaerville in upstate New York. Of the several buildings on the property, one was a remodeled barn that had been turned into a large studio. Here there were always many young artists gathered under the tutelage of Master Okada and his wife. According to Mrs. Okada, the Master's work was an extremely strenuous mental activity akin to “spiritual diarrhea once every three days”.

After a year at Cornell I heard that the professor whom I had hoped to have as my advisor had taken a position with the government and was moving to Washington, DC. I decided to transfer to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Professor Solomon Levine, a good friend of my former professor at Keio, Hisashi Kawada, was teaching at the time.

The University of Wisconsin is known as the very top school in the fields of industrial relations and labor economics that I was studying, and is blessed with a wonderful, liberal educational and research environment.

Soon after we moved, our first daughter, Haruko, was born. Splendid housing had been prepared for the graduate students, and so Haruko was able to grow up freely, surrounded by children from all over the world and frolicking in the rolling grassy fields with squirrels and wild deer.

At the University of Wisconsin I met many young scholars from the U.S. and other countries around the world who would become life-long friends of mine. One such scholar, Thomas A. Kochan, later became President of the International Industrial Relations Association, and now teaches at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Altogether Kimiko, Haruko and I spent three years at the University of Wisconsin, at the end of which I received my doctorate in industrial relations.

After finishing my degree at the University of Wisconsin I returned to Keio University and was promoted to associate professor. At the time, Japan was in the middle of the oil crisis and the whole world was in a tumultuous state. The price of oil imports from Arab countries had quadrupled, inflation was rampant worldwide, and economies were stagnating. Since Japan is dependent on Arab countries for the majority of its oil imports, the shock was particularly devastating: annual inflation rates reached 30%, and the biggest issue of the time was how to control it. The focus of labor-management negotiations became “How much can we blame inflation on higher wages?” Out of this chaos, Japan was able to assuage inflation by dividing the burden of inflation among labor, management and citizens and achieve a stunning economic recovery that earned the attention of the entire world.

For an industrial relations and labor economics researcher like myself, this recovery process was an ideal research theme. I spent my time forging close relations with job-site managers and those connected with labor while pursuing comprehensive research of the relation between labor and economics. I wrote many essays on the unique industry systems that formed the foundation of Japan's economic recovery, and I vigorously participated in academic activities both inside and outside of Japan. I also created the Shimada Seminar at Keio University, which has turned out over 600 brilliant graduates during its 30-year existence.

Just as the Japanese economy began to recover, our second daughter, Madoka, was born. I was also promoted to full professor at Keio, and my days grew busier and busier. In addition to teaching and researching at the university, I also handled jobs advising on issues of industrial relations and government policies, and the stress of my busy lifestyle was taking its toll. At this time, my friend Professor Kochan, who had since begun teaching at MIT, asked if I would be interested in being a visiting professor at MIT and enjoy a quiet year of research. Given my extremely stressful lifestyle at the time, the offer was very attractive, and after discussing it with my family I accepted the invitation. I received sabbatical leave from Keio, and departed for MIT. After my time there, I also spent one semester in France as an exchange professor at ESSEC (Ecole Superieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales). For my first three months at MIT I was to live on my own, until my family could come and join me. After arriving in Boston, Massachusets, Professor Kochan allowed me to stay at his house for several days while I got settled. He knew very well how exhausting my life was in Japan, and he kindly said that he would help me maintain a quiet and relaxing research environment in the U.S. He was true to his words. When I opened my planner, the entire year was stretched out before me like a blank canvas, and I remember feeling a sense of freedom and release like I was flying on a cloud. I had no idea how I would spend each exciting day, and I was so thrilled that I almost wanted to cry out in delight. I am forever thankful for Professor Kochan's friendship from the very bottom of my heart.

I rented a house in Belmont, a quiet residential suburb of Boston, and spent each day until my family arrived commuting back and forth along the Charles River to MIT.

It was spring, and the season was filled with a vibrancy of life as if every flower and tree had shot out their young buds at once. In the early evenings when the sun is still high, people would be out in their yachts on the Charles River, and groups of young people would enjoy a variety of games in the open spaces along the banks. It was as if a scene from a Henri Rousseau painting had leapt off of the canvas. While I traveled back and forth along the river's edge I had a wild urge to paint those scenes, and so I picked up a set of watercolors at a painting supplies store in Harvard Square.

It was my first time working with watercolors. Watercolor painting is accomplished by painting several layers of light colors on top of each other, with each color visible in the final product. It thus requires the painter to hold the image of the completed painting in his or her mind and work backwards, painting the colors from the bottom up. This provided me with persistent trouble, and I tore up and threw away many of the first paintings I attempted. After several tries, however, I gradually grew used to the process, and the beauty of the water drew me to paint almost exclusively images of the Charles River, Boston's fishing ports, and the scenes of the waterfront. One day I painted an image where the surface of the water was alight in sparking sunshine, with the water below soft and diaphanous. My hand had selected the colors and began building the waterscape unconsciously.

I felt like I was having a conversation with the glittering surface as I gently melted into the deep. After three months living apart my family finally joined me in Belmont. Eventually, Kimiko and our second daughter Madoka returned to Japan so that Madoka could attend school there. During this time Haruko tirelessly kept a close eye on me as I threw myself into my art.

After living in Boston for nine months I took Haruko with me to France, where I was to be an exchange professor for three months. I was offered a position teaching the spring term at ESSEC, in the Paris suburbs. I rented an apartment in the college district of Paris, and when I had the time I took trips around the Paris suburbs and countryside as well as to Spain, Italy and other areas, always bringing my painting supplies.

One day, on a visit to the palace at Versailles in early spring, the rain let up and the back court was bathed in soft sunlight that dispelled the fog. The gentle rays of the sun drew my eyes toward the spectacle of a little theatre that looked like a farmhouse, a building that Mary Antoinette was said to have adored. Before I knew it I had taken up my brush and painted a tiny watercolor of the scene. It is a memory that is not easy to forget.

At the end of my year overseas I returned to Japan and became even busier than ever. Pursuing research at Keio was already a full-time job, but on top of my standard lecture duties I also ran the Shimada Seminar and was in charge of the varsity boating team. In addition to this, I was growing gradually more involved with policy-related work for the government outside of the university. I worked on councils including the Government Tax Commission, the Fiscal System Council and the Industrial Structure Council. I served as Chairman for the Japan Investment Council, and I also was responsible for drafting policy proposals for the prime minister as Special Advisor for Economic and Fiscal Policy to the Cabinet Office. On top of this, I have had roles as an independent board member for several companies, and also Chairman of the Fujitsu Research Institute Economic Research Center. Furthermore, I established a consortium of Japan's major companies to promote my personal philosophy of developing consumer services industries, and began the “Shimada Juku”, a group for dynamic and ambitious owner-managers. Given these activities, my lifestyle became extremely hectic and my connection to the world of painting grew very thin. It was then, however, that I met Richard Collasse. This serendipitous meeting became a stimulus for me to change my lifestyle.

I first met Mr. Collasse at a meeting of Japan Investment Council sponsored by the Japanese government. The Council was set up 10 years ago with the prime minister as the chairman, as part of the government's plan to open up to foreign investment in Japan by reforming institutions and policies. I was working as the Chairman of the working committee consisting of Japanese and foreign experts. Mr. Collasse, who was serving as the chairman of the European Business Committee and President of CHANEL K.K., and participated in the workgroup I chair as an expert panelist.

At one point, Mr. Collasse and I were traveling together through France, Belgium, and Luxembourg as part of the campaign to solicit investment into Japan. Mr. Collasse invited my wife and me to stay at a Chanel chateau in Bordeaux, and we had a tremendously enjoyable and meaningful trip. During this trip I spoke with Mr. Collasse about how I had a brief period in my youth when I was serious about painting. Mr. Collasse responded by urging me to present my works at the new Chanel Japan headquarters in The Ginza.

He was not joking about his offer, and I grew resolved to pick up my paintbrush for the first time in almost half a century and start painting seriously once again. In preparation for this, I redesigned the vacation home to a painting studio, which was to be built along the coast of the Izu Peninsula.

Ⅳ. A Journey of Self Re-Discovery

It had been over half a century since I'd painted seriously, and so when I decided to take it up again in earnest I was at first very lost as to what kind of pictures I should paint. Until that time, most of my pictures were of actual landscapes and other images. This time around, however, I felt that it would be good if I could express myself more directly by painting the images that arose in my heart, so-called “imagined scenery”.

When I discussed my thoughts on this with a well-known medical doctor, he encouraged me by saying that oil painting in fact rejuvenates your mind. Though I hoped to try painting the landscapes in my heart, in actuality it is no simple task to put such images onto paper. Paintings are not so easily made. Thus, I decided to carry a small sketchbook with me wherever I went, so that I would be able to sketch whatever images that may cross my mind. My half-century sabbatical from painting also left me feeling as if I were a complete novice with no knowledge of painting, and I was at a loss for what materials to use and how to use them.

It was around this time that I had the good fortune to become acquaintances with Noriko Yanagisawa, a professor at Musashino Art University. We met on the night of a reception that my wife and I were invited to by Ambassador Fry from the UK. My wife mentioned my paintings with Professor Yanagisawa, who was among the other guests at the reception.

Professor Yanagisawa became quite excited when she heard that I was to take up painting again, and since then she has been a tremendous help in many ways. Incidentally, Professor Yanagisawa's husband is none other than the LDP MP Hakuo Yanagisawa, whom I had already known for many years.

Professor Yanagisawa and I met to discuss art many times since that first fateful meeting. During one such meeting our conversation shifted to the topic of Yuichi Inoue, the postwar artistic prodigy and world-renowned avant-garde calligrapher. When I spoke of my impressions of Mr. Inoue's art, she expressed almost the same feelings and we found each other to be even closer kindred spirits than before. Professor Yanagisawa offered me her full and dedicated support, and took me to the Itoya that she frequents to give me an introduction in painting supplies. She also recommended some books with collections of oil paintings by artists that she thought I would like and even introduced me to several art directors. She told me that the first step was just to try painting something for the time being, and see what comes out. After I began painting she continued to give me valuable support at each step of the way.

It was my first time attempting to paint with oil paints, and so I broke the process down into four steps. My first step was to use a small sketchbook to record the images that passed through my mind. Next, I painted these images as watercolors in a larger sketchbook. After this I would paint these in oil paints on a No. 10 or No. 20 canvas. Lastly, I would paint the final oil painting on a large canvas (No. 50 or larger). One aspect of oil painting that I quickly became aware of is the considerable length of time it takes for oil paints to dry. In particular, I learned that using a glossy thinner such as linseed oil means that it will take between one to two months for the painting to fully dry, and so it may even take up to six months or a full year to complete one painting. I began to worry about whether or not I would be finished in time for my private exhibition in two years. I gradually learned that there is endless depth to both painting materials and methods. When I went out to buy oil painting supplies I would want everything available in the store; eventually I settled on choosing from about 200 color samples. It also seemed that acrylic supplies had also evolved in the last 20 or so years, so that I now had to learn from scratch how to use the various painting tools that had not existed 50 years ago. Because acrylics are water soluble it is possible to use brushstrokes like those of watercolors, but it is also possible to layer it thickly like paint; what's more, they also dry fairly quickly, making them very versatile and easy to use. Acrylics also go very well with various mixing ingredients like cream, sand and gypsum and can be used in a variety of painting styles. Indeed, the depth of color tones available to oil painting supplies, with a history dating back several hundred years, have taken a step back with the advancement of the versatile painting medium of acrylics.

Professional painters are familiar with all of these painting materials and methods and take full advantage of them to express themselves. This is true in golf as well: the difference between professional and amateur is glaringly obvious. Professionals use their accumulated knowledge of golfing equipment and the influence of terrain, grass, and weather to drive the ball accurately towards their target. Novices, on the other hand, are unable to fully read the terrain and lack the confidence to drive the ball where they want. This makes all of the difference in the world. In my case, however, I had made a promise to open a personal exhibition and I could not back down, and so I resolved to try my best to make sure that, if nothing else, I would lose to no one in my wish toward my paintings.

Though this expression may not always be completely accurate, the mindset of challenging art by relying only on your feelings is fraught with anticipation and anxiety, much like wondering whether you might encounter your soul mate. I had spent several decades in the world of economics and politics, and thus I had a defined Shimada-style of self-expression and a Shimada-style of confidence in the intellectual realm of economic policy recommendations. In the realm of painting, however, I was completely ignorant as to what form Haruo Shimada would take. I spent day after day searching for myself within that world of anticipation and anxiety in which I was but a stranger. In order to throw myself completely into this new kind of mental exertion I thought it best to set myself completely free and to pursue my art in an environment that would allow my right-brain to work happily and undistracted. I decided to paint exclusively at my studio on the Izu Peninsula.

My studio is situated atop a cliff overlooking the ocean to the south of the Kawana Golf Course in Izu. The sound of the surf has a soothing ring to it as the last waves of the day crash against the shore some 70 meters below. Surrounding it is a verdant expanse of trees with no telephone lines or any other signs of civilization in sight. Opposite the studio is the island of Oshima, whose expression changes with the weather and passing hours of the day. My two daughters named this studio and vacation home La Casa del Sol-“the house of the sun”. My usual schedule was to leave from my house in Yokohama on Friday evening and return home Sunday night, and it became a habit for me to drive this route almost every weekend.

As I continued to paint I became aware that I myself had started to change. When I initially began, I would first think about making an oil painting, and then I would formulate the kind of image I hoped to create. But I could not draw natural, curving lines. At first I couldn't figure out why my lines and designs came out the way they did, but without realizing it I subconsciously came upon the answer myself. During those days in Izu I would watch the easy brushstrokes of my grandson Yuhta with great admiration. Gradually I was able to feel the natural power of the ocean and the mountains, of the trees as they passed through the seasons, and I began to think “If only I could harness this power in my art…”

I also resolved to try and accept the energies from nature and from various impulses in order to create more honest and personal expression through my paintings. Slowly and steadily I felt compelled to open up to these energies more and more and to discover a more liberated version of myself, and eventually I grew to enjoy the very act of searching for a new me within this realm of painting. Perhaps this was a journey to discover another aspect of myself that I had never noticed before. Perhaps it was an attempt to rediscover the valuable time that I had not realized I had lost. Thoughts like these welled up inside me. Through the act of painting, I felt the elation of being invited to a new life that I had never known.

This exhibition is the first step towards the new life that I hope to pursue. To the many individuals who have supported and encouraged this dream of mine along every step of the way, I offer my deepest thanks from the very bottom of my heart.
Haruo Shimada
*The general theme of this painting exhibition, "a la recherche du temps perdu(Marcel Proust)" is chosen by the suggestion of Mr. Richard Collasse, President & Representative Director of CHANEL K.K.