Yasuyoshi Botan

Participant from the 8th of August till the 8th of September 2013

‘What makes the Dutch color so good? Is there any secret in their philosophy about color? What makes our sense of color?’

Yasuyoshi Botan

Yasuyoshi Botan is a contemporary artist from Tokyo, whom makes paintings and installations. For his stay with Deshima AIR, Botan wanted to research where Dutch colour came from and how it was different from Japan. He also wanted to know why his work was thought of as Japanese like, even though he painted with Dutch paints. So he explored the aesthetic sense that both countries have, when it comes to colour in contrast to each other. He revealed unique characteristics of both countries, with special attention to the colour point of view and how this differs between the Netherlands and Japan with special attention to the differences in colours with clothes, book design, food, flowers, and etc. About Amsterdam, Botan had the following to say: “In the city of Amsterdam, colours would be vivid and pop out to give accents to a dark historical townscape”. Botan thought this to be similar to rules of Japanese Aesthetic “Iki”.

For his research, He also studied the history behind the colours, so that he could trace back to how the Dutch and Japanese sense of colour aesthetics came to be.

He then presented this to the public in his end-presentation Colour Palette at ‘t Japans Cultuur Centrum in Amsterdam.


One particular thing Botan mentioned was that he could buy ‘Old Holland’ paint in Japan and wanted to learn more about this specific paint and egg tempera, which is mixing oil and pigment to make colour in order to really understand the colors. Therefore, Deshima AIR helped Botan with organizing a trip to the ‘Old Holland’ painting company, a workshop at Verfmolen de Kat with Pieter Keune where he learned more about the history behind Dutch paints, and a visit to Olphaert den Otter’s studio where he learned more about egg tempera paint.

“Botan was researching the colour usage of the old Holland masters. Only later I realized how Japanese his approach was. I, as a westerner would look at the deeper meanings behind things, as I was used to ‘the shape and content’. Botan would not look for the meaning behind things, but for the meaning in the colour. A wise lesson!“

Olpheart den Otter, painter

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