Memorial gathering for painter Ikuo Hirayama held in Tokyo

by Tsuyoshi Urushihara, Staff Writer

A memorial gathering for Japanese painter Ikuo Hirayama, who was from Setoda Town, Onomichi City and passed away at the age of 79 last December, was held at a hotel in Tokyo on February 2. About 2,600 people, including members of the imperial family, representatives from the worlds of art, politics, and finance, as well as foreign ambassadors, took part in the event.

Toshio Matsuo, chairman of Nihon Bijutsuin (the Japan Art Institute) who served as chair of the memorial gathering committee, looked back at Mr. Hirayama's efforts to protect and restore the cultural heritage of the world and commented, "Everything about him was of such a grand scale that no other painter remotely compares."

Ryohei Miyata, president of Tokyo University of the Arts and vice chair of the memorial gathering committee, lauded Mr. Hirayama's achievements, remarking, "He was a powerful force behind the nurturing of the spirit of "Onkochishin"--looking back at the past to learn about the future--on our campus." Mr. Hirayama served as president of the university for two terms.

Messages of condolence from Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Chinese President Hu Jintao were also shared.

At the altar, along with a photo of Mr. Hirayama, two folding screens on which he had painted the skies of day and night, part of his best known series called "Silk Road," were placed. Participants offered white flowers, one by one, reluctantly bidding farewell to the great painter.

Michiko Hirayama, 84, the painter's wife, expressed gratitude for the occasion, saying, "I'm sure my husband would be very pleased that so many people came. I'm happy that his work is also appreciated highly overseas."

(Originally published on February 13, 2010)

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