San/Burning Sun

This one kimono, titled San, is the keynote image for the whole Kubota collection.

This one kimono, titled San, is the keynote image for the whole Kubota collection.  It had the most special relevance for Itchiku. He had enlisted in the Japanese Army in 1938 when he was 21. Sent to the Northern Front in 1944, he was captured by the Russians near the end of World War II and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Siberia for three years. Here he made scrap paper costumes for plays produced by the prisoners. When those plays were banned, he found hope for the future gazing across the Siberian plains at the brilliant sunsets that bathed the dreary landscape in light and color. As he thought of family and friends, he found that the beauty of the dying rays filled him with what he later described as “wordless emotions of grief, sorrow, solemnity and love.” Ultimately, as he studied the sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic way the light would change the colors that flooded the sky, he found he could free himself to think as an artist, not just as a prisoner. Although the setting sun became a recurring motif for Kubota’s work, nowhere is the splendor and melancholy more clearly expressed than in this one unforgettable image.

Number in the collection: 1
Series: Individual Work
Dimensions: 158 x 126 cm
Technique: Tie-dyeing, ink painting on silk crepe (chirimen)
Kimono type: Kosode (short sleeve)
Catalogue reference: 70
Created by: Itchiku Kubota
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Listen to audio description - Ouka/The Beauty of a Weeping Cherry
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