Yasushi Sugiyama was born 1909 (Meiji 42) in Asakusa, Tokyo. He entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1928 (Showa 3). He became a prominent figure with his overwhelming sketching ability; his work won special prize in the Exhibition of the Imperial Fine Arts Academy (now the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition) during this period. After graduating first on the list, he formed the Rusogasha with young painters and continued to create new Japanese paintings. He also continued to enter the Nitten.
After 1960 (Showa 35), Sugiyama’s paintings tended toward abstract expression. Instead of using Japanese paper or silk, Sugiyama used canvas (linen) as his paintings’ supports and a mixture of natural mineral pigments and fine sand to achieve coarse texture. Eventually, Sugiyama invented his own original style of precise depiction of flowers and birds placed on a background with abstract motif like a chromatic screen composition. Such new style of mixing abstract and realism was praised as a “figurative art”.
In 1962 (Showa 37), Sugiyama travels overseas for the first in life to Egypt and various European countries. He continued to travel thereafter. His favorite destination was the middle east where he produced paintings with the motifs he encountered during his travel such as a pyramid, a sphinx, a lady dressed in traditional clothing.
Cultivated the new areas in the Japanese paintings after the war, Yasushi Sugiyama achieved various honors including being selected as a member of the Japan Art Academy in 1970 (Showa 45) and awarded Japanese Order of Cultural Merit in 1974 (Showa 49). He died in 1993 (Heisei 5) at the age of 84. Fourty-three works by Yasushi Sugiyama in the Pola Art Museum’s collection are the Japan largest and greatest collection of Sugiyama in both quality and quantity.