Tamura Kazuo was born in 1904 in today’s Nakano Ward, Tokyo. While he was not born to a wealthy family, his turning point came when he was around 20. He started working for a frame shop, living in the owner’s house, and began studying painting at Hongo Institute for Western Paintings, chaired by Okada Saburosuke. During this time, he visited Tateshina, Nagano, with one of his institute fellows and sculptor Yazaki Torao. He was deeply impressed by the magnificent landscape of the plateau he had seen for the first time in his life. Since then, plateaus and mountains became his main motifs in his artworks.
At the age of 50, he had an opportunity to spend 10 months in Europe, where he actively worked on his new creation. But it was this stay in Europe that made him realize that what he really wanted to use in his artworks as motifs are landscapes in Japan. After returning to Japan, he produced artworks mainly depicting Japan’s winter landscape. The canvas Tamura used for seascapes is packed with his features, including his simplified composition and his unique touch expressing the atmosphere of the nature he felt in person at the site.
During his lifetime, he donated about 200 of his artworks to Matsumoto City with his desire to “donate his works to Shinshu or somewhere else,” which lead to the opening of his memorial gallery when the Museum was opened. However, Tamura Kazuo himself never saw the opening of his memorial room, passing away in 1997 at the age of 92. In the Memorial Gallery, we hold about three exhibitions a year with different themes to honor Tamura Kazuo.