Flor Bex-De Deyne :” He was an utopian. He looked for perfection. Everything has to be perfect. The people had to be perfect. It’s about beauty, It’s about the big standards: Truth, Beauty, Authenticity, Purity. That’s what is was all about for him. ”

his work is solemn secret concise, also has a sense of eastern philosophy. maybe because the early years in Japan has a big influence on his aesthetics.


“Byars was born in Detroit in 1932, studied at Wayne State University and lived in Japan from 1958 to 1967. Byars arrived in Japan for the first time in September or October 1958. He was twenty-six years old. Kurashiki was the place Byars headed first. There is the region is known for the high quality of its folk crafts. He ended up living there until his first trip back to the United States in the summer of 1959. In the spring of 1960, Byars came to live in Kyoto. One reason for relocating to Kyoto was that he had obtained an English teaching position at the preparatory school of the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. In Kyoto, where he lived for most of the next seven years, Byars met many people and was involved in a number of dramatic events and happenings. The rich cultural ambience of the city clearly served as a source of inspiration for his artistic endeavors. It was here that he established a style that naturally incorporated elements of Buddhism and Shintoism as well as the refined qualities of traditional Japanese performing arts. If we think of the Kurashiki years as a period of training during which Byars studied ceramics, painted with sumi ink on paper, and learned about textiles, then his days in Kyoto were a time of experimentation, of attempts to apply to “art” the techniques he had recently absorbed. It was also a time of contemplation that gave his wealth of artistic ideas a chance to take flight. (refer from the book by Shinobu Sakagami “James Lee Byars: Days in Japan” Floating World Editions, 2017)”