Kayama Matazo expands the traditions of Nihonga by infusing his works with personality. His earliest pictures of charmingly-painted animals followed by moody, somewhat stark and gloomy paintings of birds and bleak winter scenes give way to Rimpa-style landscape screens enriched with gold, sensual female nudes and poetic flower paintings. Kayama was born in Kyoto to a family of artists. His grandfather was a Kano-school painter and his his father designed kimono textiles in the Nishijin district.
Kayama graduated from the Japanese-style painting department of the Kyoto Municipal School of Fine Art and Crafts and entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts where he met Kobayashi Kokei (1883-1957) who was a professor there. Interrupted by service in the war, his formal education was complete in 1949.
Kayama's paintings of the 1950s incorporate elements of cubism, Italian futurism, and serial imagery. The post-war re-evaluation of cultural values that had led the country to conflict, resulted in a decline in the support of traditional art forms and a trend toward Westernization. By 1960, however, interest in Nihonga had gathered strength and Kayama began the work which was to occupy him for three decades--the re-interpretation of traditional Japanese screen painting.
In 1953 Kayama won the New Artist award in the 17th Shin-Seisaku Kyokai (the New Creation Association) exhibition. He showed regularly with this organization in its yearly exhibitions as well as with the Hikobayu beginning in 1954 and the Todoroki-kai starting in 1959. He was represented frequently in the Contemporary Japanese Art Exhibitions sponsored by the Mainichi Newspaper. In 1957 with Kawabata Minoru (b. 1911) and Yamaguchi Takeo (1902-1983) he won a group award at the 2nd Guggenheim International Art Exhibition in New York. He had one-man shows in Tokyo at the Yoseido Gallery and at the Tokyo Gallery in 1955, at the Janet Nessler Gallery in New York in 1961, at the Murakoshi Gallery in Tokyo, and at the Kansai Gallery in Osaka in 1963. In 1964 at the Taiseki-ji Temple in Fujinomiya City, Kayama designed a ceramic mural.
Kayama's work was included in Masterpieces of Modern Japanese Painting at the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow in 1967. At the Jindaiji temple in 1974, he designed a stone pagoda as a monument to his friend Yokoyama Misao (1920-1973), and in 1975 he had a one-man exhibition at the Seibu Department Store in Tokyo. In the late 1970s he designed ceramic murals for Yamatane Securities in Osaka and for the Nihon Keizai Shinbun. He had a commission for the Japanese Embassy in the United States, and did another mural for the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. One-man exhibitions in 1979 were held at the Murakoshi and Uchiyama Galleries in Tokyo. Kayama Matazo 1982 was held at the Tokyo Central Museum of Art and the following year he was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the main hall of the Kuonji temple, the center of Nichiren Buddhism. Additional solo exhibitions of his work in the 1980s were held at the Fukuoka Municipal Art Museum, the Seibu Museum in Tokyo, and the Takashimaya stores in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, and Osaka.
Kayama has traveled frequently to China as part of the Japan/China Cultural Exchange Program and as a member of the Japanese Artists Delegation. A painting teacher at Tama Univerity of Fine Arts and Music from 1966 to 1977 and from 1978 to 1988, he joined the faculty of Tokyo University of Fine Arts in 1988. In 1973 he won the Japan Art Award and in 1980 the Cultural Ministry Award.
A painting of the same subject is illustrated in Matazo Kayama (Sandy Hook, Ct.: Shorewood, 1990), pl. 118. For other paintings by Kayama Matazo sold in these Rooms see sale #7898 on April 27, 1994, lots 37, 50, 51, and 52, and sale #7868 on the same date, lot 69.