It’s never plan or forethought that brings me back every few months to the writing and painting of Tomihiro Hoshino. As a writer and artist he hasn’t published an especially large canon, but then how many living artists have an entire museum dedicated to their work? After a horrible paralyzing accident while practicing gymnastics at the age of twenty-four, Hoshino learned over the next few years how to work with a paintbrush held in his mouth to produce poems and pictures. The former physical education teacher spent nine years in the hospital before being able to go home. The first exhibition of his poems and flower paintings came in 1982, a touring exhibition that enthralled over one million visitors in its first months.
Hoshino’s style and simply stated expressions of doubt, awakening, wonder and love are characteristics that his mostly Japanese audience finds familiar and heartfelt. His perspective is thoroughly Japanese in its sentiment and manner of expression, but at the same time a perspective and style that have enchanted non-Japanese for long years. His work sounds a chord as precisely the kind of poetic expression that first attracted me to Japan. Totally without qualification or apology, one recognizes the journey this man traveled in reaching the day finally when life returned to him through the medium of brush, ink and paint. Hoshino’s work would be outstanding had it been done with hands, arms and fingers, but we are startled to discover that while arms, hands and fingers are unmoving, it is art achieved without that advantage. Obviously, the heart is able to compensate where limbs fail.
Now sixty-six, Tomihiro Hoshino continues to write, paint, publish and exhibit his art. He lives in Gunma Prefecture northwest of Tokyo with his wife of many years. His work is a glowing example of human endeavor in the face of almost insuperable hardship. The pictures above all come from the book, Road of the Tinkling Bell, published in 1986.
For those interested in other examples of Hoshino’s work…