The Ogurayama Project

The Ogurayama district of Saga (Kyoto) is the place of origin of the poem anthology Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem each).

The Ogura Hyakunin Isshu was created when the Heian-period courtier and poet Fujiwara no Teika selected one poem for each of the one hundred most celebrated poets at his time, writing them on shikishi paper to decorate his country home in Saga Ogurayama, at the foothills of the mountains surrounding Kyoto. Those visiting Teika encountered the poems of past and present on the mansion’s sliding doors, unified by the format of the waka (a classical form of Japanese poetry), a surprising experience completely new and inspiring. To the present day, Teika’s skillful selection has lost little of its appeal to those who are moved by poetry.

At Shibunkaku, we are proud to announce a new art initiative, the Ogurayama Project: We will invite one hundred up-and-coming artists regardless of genre, nationality or age to create one work each at Ogurayama. Participating artists are offered the opportunity to live and work for a certain period at Shibunkaku’s Saga House as artists in residence and, embedded in the distinctive cultural atmosphere of Kyoto’s Saga area, refine and enrich their artistic practice.

In particular, we would like to encourage artists to explore the traditional Japanese format of the folding screen, as well as media such as paper and ink, that are common in artistic expression throughout East Asia. The word byōbu (folding screen) in Japanese literally means “to protect against the wind,” and byōbu indeed were for centuries used as wind screens, as room separators and even as thunder screens. Throughout history, they have been familiar to the lives of generations of Japanese people. Since the panels of a folding screen, when placed in a room, form a zigzag pattern, the appearance of the paintings on it can be changed and manipulated in multifold ways. Panels can be moved quite freely, which affects the ways we look at the paintings. This flexibility and resulting three-dimensionality of a work contribute the perception of its beauty. At the same time, we believe that these factors that are unique to the folding screen format constitute a worthy challenge for artists who attempt to make use of it.

Ideas and expression emerge in relation to place and the moment.
In that sense, we are looking forward to fruitful encounters and an exciting new experience of creation.