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On 10 November 1987, Andrzej Wajda received the Kyoto Prize for his lifetime achievements in the field of the arts. During a few days spent in Kyoto, the former capital city of Japan, he sketched more than a dozen drawings depicting the places he had visited. They included two views of Kinkakuji (Jap. Golden Pavillon), one of the most exquisite places of the city. The name of the building is derived from the decoration of the walls which are covered with petals of gold.

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On 10 November 1987, Andrzej Wajda received the Kyoto Prize for his lifetime achievements in the field of the arts. During a few days spent in Kyoto, the former capital city of Japan, he sketched more than a dozen drawings depicting the places he had visited. They included two views of Kinkakuji (Jap. Golden Pavillon), one of the most exquisite places of the city. The name of the building is derived from the decoration of the walls which are covered with petals of gold. It was built in the 14th century for the shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikagi (1358–1408), and, in subsequent years, it was converted into a Buddhist shrine. Kinkakuji was destroyed and rebuilt many times. Last time, it was set on fire in 1950 by a young Buddhist monk, and his story became the base for a novel by Yukio Mishima (1925–1970) titled The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The building was reconstructed in 1955, with all details and paintings located inside the shrine. At present, it is regarded as a monument of the 14th century since, in the opinion of the Japanese people, the thing that matters is the fact that, along with the reconstruction of the form of the building that its spirit was also restored.
In this drawing by Andrzej Wajda, the building is in the background, hidden behind a huge pine tree. The outline of the building is presented very schematically, but the artist has added some colour by emphasising the pavilion's gold, and the green and blue of pine needles, as well as some shades of pine tree bark here and there. The colour pencils' strokes are rather smeared, and they do not fit the outline. It gives the impression that the view was seen only in passing, in the blink of an eye. Although the drawing's style is very European, the composition is definitely Japanese. Both elements are presented in a cut-off frame. The larger motif is in the foreground, and it obscures the central theme of the picture. Such a solution had been used by the Japanese masters of landscape, including Hokusai (1760–1849) and Hiroshige (1797–1858). In the 36 views of Mount Fuji series by Hokusai, the holy mountain of Japan is always in the background of another motif — behind a huge wave, a line of pine trees, or a fragment of a barrel. In the 100 famous places of Edo series, Hiroshige has placed a large plum in the foreground, also a fragment of a bridge and a close-up of a horse's leg. Andrzej Wajda was searching for such a perspective that would allow him to draw from a view that would be non-obvious for a tourist, but clear to a Japanese person.
In the drawing, sketched in a notebook, the artist has placed an inscription indicating when and where is was made (“13.XI.87, Kyoto.”) and a seal modelled on Japanese seals.

Elaborated by Aleksandra Görlich (The Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

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“Golden Pavillon in Kyoto” — a drawing by Andrzej Wajda

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