- 3 min read

Seki Art Gallery

A little light art appreciation in Matsuyama

The Seki Art Gallery is located in a residential area between Dogo and central Matsuyama. The exterior of the gallery is discreet and undemonstrative with a high wall around it. A slight surprise awaits at the top of the steps leading into the building—there’s a pillar of some iridescent sort of stone, rounded at the top, from which water emerges. This flows in a little groove into the adjacent stone garden. When I first caught sight of this glistening pole, it gave me a slight start.

The works on display in the gallery are by Japanese and western artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the better known of these is Auguste Rodin, and there’s a small room devoted to a collection of his minor sculptures, watercolors and etchings. The latter were particularly to my taste.

The Japanese collection features works by Ryōhei Koiso (1903 to 1988) and Matazō Kayama (1927 to 2004). Koiso paints in the western style. Visitors from the west will no doubt have seen many similar paintings in provincial museums in their own countries. The works of Kayama feature metallic paints, particularly silver and gold, which give them a highly decorative appearance. I was particularly attracted to a series of twelve flowers representing each month of the year. The image of snow on a branch of pink plum blossom with a background of reflective gold was exquisite.

On the first floor there’s a highly decorative music box made in Germany for export to Britain. The staff kindly gave me an antique English penny to put in the machine to make it play a pleasant honky-tonk melody.

The gallery building itself is modern and stylish, with galleries on many levels surrounding a naturally lit atrium. More light comes in through oval-shaped windows.

In the basement there’s a video room showing the various works in the museum, putting them in their historical and artistic context. This is in Japanese and I found it sufficient just to look at the works themselves. There’s no information in English anywhere, and all the works are labeled in Japanese, so unless you read Japanese, you can enjoy some pure art appreciation without knowing what anything is ‘supposed’ to be…

I doubt that anyone will come to Matsuyama specifically to see the collection of the Seki Art Gallery, but if you find yourself in the area with an hour to spare, it’s an agreeable place to drop in and enjoy some tranquility in an attractive architectural space with a variety of Japanese and European art.

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