Special Exhibition “WONDER of the SILK ROAD: The 105 Year Path of KAZUKO IRIE”


Blue Poppies in Siguniang Mountain, China
Oil on canvas, 259.1 × 181.8 mm, 1992

September 23 – November 3, 2021
The Nippon Club WEB Gallery

The Silk Road—which evokes thoughts of timeless heroic tales with its exotic name—didn’t only transport silk. It carried culture and art, spurred fusion and exchange, and contributed to humanity’s shared cultural heritage.

Kazuko Irie continues to take up the topic of the Silk Road in the 2017 NHK special piece on Sunday Art Museum titled “Painting Blue Poppies: The Atelier of 101-year-old painter Kazuko Irie.” Due to its positive reception, it has been re-broadcast four times.

Left:Fairies in Dunhuang, China Right:Dawn in Istanbul, Turkey

In this exhibition, the 105-year-old artist Kazuko Irie displays approximately forty pieces of work. These pieces are inspired by the majestic landscapes, people, and their lifestyles she encountered while traveling countries along the Silk Road. She imbues the colors in her work with the feelings from her travels. The exhibition looks back over Kazuko Irie’s career which spans 85 years.

Ms. Kazuko Irie passed away on August 10, 2021, at a hospital in Tokyo. She was 105 years old. We would like to express our sincere condolences.

Organized by The Nippon Club
Supported by the J.C.C. Fund
(Philanthropic Fund of Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New York)
In cooperation with IRIE KAZUKO Silk Road Museum
KOA Corporation
OKAYA Silk Museum
“Silk: Then now and beyond” Film Organizing Committee
Curator: Shoko Hayashi

Virtual Opening Reception of “WONDER of the SILK ROAD: The 105 Year Path of KAZUKO IRIE” & “Silk: Then now and beyond” Mini Film Screening


The documentary film “Silk: Okaya,” “Silk: Then now and beyond.”

Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Free of charge
optionally donate to a bento project for healthcare workers
(up to 500 people, First come, first served)

At the virtual reception, we will look back on Ms. Kazuko Irie’s 85 years as an artist and introduce her work with slides.

Moreover, starting at the very East endpoint of the Silk Road, Japan, and spreading first to the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, Paterson, New Jersey, then to the states of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, etc. a new type of silk road developed between the United States and Japan. Tomoyuki Kumagai will introduce the Japan-US story of silk production through Silk Beyond Space and Time (film trailer). This story grows out of a “spirit of craftsmanship,” the two countries’ mutual relationship of trust and their pioneering innovation.

Register Here

*The event will be held in Japanese, but The Nippon Club will be providing real-time subtitles in English through Wordly.
*This event is an online event via Zoom. The actual event is not being held at The Nippon Club building.

■Kazuko IRIE

A western-style female painter, Director of the Silk Road Museum, Member of the Independent Arts Association (Dokuritsu Bijutsu Kyōkai), Member of the Female Painters Association (Joryū Gaka Kyōkai)

She was born in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in 1916. She showed talent early, and a still life she painted in sixth grade was dedicated to Emperor Shōwa. After graduating from Joshibi University of Art and Design in 1938, she apprenticed under the painter Takeshi Hayashi. Subsequently, she became a leader in the art world as a member of the Independent Arts Association and the Female Painters Association. She was fascinated by the Silk Road, and from the 1970s onward, she consistently painted the Silk Road’s natural scenery and people living in remote areas. Her painting style is novel in composition, rich in bright colors and light, establishing a unique world. In 2013, she won the first Joshibi University of Art and Design Honor Award.

“Mastery of Color/Continuing to Depict the Silk Road”(1996/Sangokan Press)
“101-year-old textbook-fascinated by Silk Road-” (2017/SHUFUNOTOMO Co., Ltd.)


■Tomoyuki KUMAGAI

Film-Director, Photographer, Secretary-General of the Takato Masons Research Center,
Representative Director of Field Work, L.L.C.

A director in the film and TV drama at T.B.S. Holdings, INC., and Toshiba Sunday Theater. Currently, he mainly produces images centered on mountains and directs films that convey culture.



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