Article about the Kubota collection in Artway magazine

12th April 2017

Itchiku Kubota (1917-2003) was one of the world’s most famous Japanese textile artists. In the twentieth century, he managed to recreate the technique of tie-dyeing silk used in making kimonos, which had been lost six centuries before.

Itchiku Kubota began to study textiles as an art form at the age of fourteen. When he was twenty, he first saw a tiny fragment of silk cloth in the Tokyo National Museum, decorated with the very ancient Japanese ornamental technique known as Tsujigahana (literally meaning -“flowers”). Craftsmen had used this amazing method of hand dyeing fabrics as early as the XV century. The young artist was so impressed by this ancient technology that he devoted his entire life to the recreation of this lost form of art. However, Itchiku Kubota presented his own original version to the world, enriched with innovative ideas and modern colours. “My aim was to create a kimono which had a soul,” he said.

The first exhibition of Kubota’s decorated kimono, which was to bring him fame, took place in Tokyo in 1977.

Today, the textile artist’s collection includes 104 kimono created by the “Itchiku Tsujigahana” technique. It includes several individual works, as well as kimono from the “Mount Fujiyama” series and the masterpiece “A Symphony of Light” – the artist’s most significant work. This series reflects his admiration for nature and the inspiration he obtained from contemplating the endless play of changing light. Certain kimono created by Kubota were designed specifically for connoisseurs and people who appreciated his art, while others were used in theatrical productions in the Noh and Kabuki theatres.

geki/strong sea currents
Multi-colour tie-dyeing, ink painting and embroidery on silk crepe (chirimen) with gold wefts.204×127 cm (inv. No1)
tu / glowing passion
multi-coloured tie-dyeing, ink painting, applied metallic gold leaf and embroidery on silk crepe (chirimen) with gold wefts, 198×139 cm (inv. No. 73)

Kubota dreamed of founding a museum in which he could present his works to visitors and in 1994 he managed to make this dream become a reality. He built a museum in one of the most beautiful places in Japan, on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi overlooking Mount Fuji. After the artist’s death, the curators of the collection did their utmost to save it, but in 2010 the museum was on the verge of bankruptcy.

The exhibits were in danger of being sold off by auction. However, the collection was bought by Patokh Chodiev, the founder of the International Chodiev Foundation, a businessman and philanthropist.

Thus, the legacy of Itchiku Kubota was preserved. The Foundation made it possible for the rare works to be preserved for the Japanese people and the entire planet. Itchiku Kubota exhibitions are held in different countries all over the world.

In January 2014, a unique collection was presented in Moscow in the “Manege” State Exhibition Hall.

The charitable gesture made by Patokh Chodiev, who is famous for his love of Japanese culture, was a mark of gratitude to this country for the influence it had on his life.

We are grateful to the International Chodiev Foundation for the material provided.