Collection Individual works
As Itchiku Kubota worked over the years to refine his work with tsujigahana, he began to incorporate his own version of this method of surface design – what he finally called ‘Itchiku Tsujigahana’ – into the kimono he created. Some of these works he intended to be worn by individuals who understood and appreciated his art, and some he created to be used in Noh or kabuki theatrical productions. Other pieces he held back for his own collection, as they represented milestones in the evolution of his art.
The kimono shown in this section provide an overview of Kubota’s artistry in using many different motifs and patterns – both traditional and contemporary – as well as his development as an artist from 1976 until his death in 2003. His focus remained clearly on nature, light and form, and he compiled an astounding degree of diversity in the various designs that are seen in these works. The kimono also show his increasing confidence in his own interpretation of tsujigahana, from an early work using the traditional lozenge-shaped pine-bark motifs (matsukawabishi) as seen on the facing page in Kikkoumatsukawa (1978), to Kasanenmitshirin (2000), where the subtly shaded concentric bands representing multiple images of the sun are filled with delicate ink-drawn flowers based on Kubota’s beloved tsujigahana. There is also a dramatic change in the texture of the final product over the years, as the flatter effect noticeable in the earlier work gradually gave way to enhancement of the effects produced by the variety of dyeing techniques Kubota had at his command to create a greater sense of dimensionality in the design. Kubota also moved away from the lighter silks of his early years to use of a heavier silk chirimen laced with gold or silver weft threads that added shimmering depths to his designs and captured the all-important reflections of light in his work.