The Naturalistic World of Japanese Art

 Throughout this exhibition similar styles of Japanese landscapes are displayed to show how simple, yet complex these images are. Japanese Landscape artists use very simple lines and organic shapes to give the viewer and idea of what they are looking at, but the depth is the important key to these images. The artists use a technique known as atmospheric perspective to create a huge sense of depth in the images, turning small images of a mountain to a vast landscape. The artworks in this gallery are mainly from around 1400CE-1600CE. One of the main landscape artists of this time was Sesshu Toyo who studied Chinese art and brought a similar style back to Japan called Haboku. The first image in this gallery is much older than the others, but it is included to show this theme of depth that has always been prevalent in Japanese art. The purpose of this gallery is for the viewer to look at the use of line, shape, and value of the artworks. Many lines in the works create implied lines or very light shapes create mountains in the distance.                                                 "Open F|S: Paradise of Amida Buddha (Amitabha)." Freer. Freer and Sackler. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.                                         The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Sesson Shukei." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.                                   Boundless. “Zen Ink Painting.” Survey of Non-Western Art. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 27 Apr. 2016 from Boundless.         "Open F|S: Landscape." Freer. Freer and Sackler. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.                                                                                      "Open F|S: Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons: Spring and Summer." Freer. Freer and Sackler. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.             Source: Boundless. “Kano School Painting in the Edo Period.” Survey of Non-Western Art. Boundless, 15 Apr. 2016. Retrieved 27 Apr. 2016 from Boundless. “Kano School Painting in the Edo Period.” Survey of Non-Western Art. Boundless, 15 Apr. 2016. Retrieved 27 Apr. 2016 from                           "Open F|S: Snipe Over a Marsh from the Three Dusks." Freer. Freer and Sackler. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.                 "松林図屏風 - E国宝." 松林図屏風 - E国宝. Emuseum. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.                                                                                "Open F|S: The Four Accomplishments." Freer. Freer and Sackler. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.                                                         "Screen Depicting Musashino Plains." Google Art Project. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <https: / / /culturalinstitute /asset-viewer /screen-depicting-musashino-plains /lagipxgcq1zyqa?projectid="art-project">.                                        

Devotion to Amida Buddha within Japanese Buddhism reached a crescendo late in the Heian period (794–1185) and continued through the Kamakura period (1185–1333). Amida's Western Paradise was central to the iconography of Amidist cults, and most specifically to Pure Land Buddhism. Images of the Western Paradise were symmetrically-conceived views of paradisiacal court architecture and gardens populated by deities and souls recently arrived from the earth. Related images, called raigozu, show Amida Buddha, attendant bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) Seishi and Kannon, and sometimes additional retinue, descending to earth to greet a soon-to-expire believer. This exceptionally rare painting—only one other like it is known—eschews the common symmetrical format and offers a diagonal composition. The narrative reads from the upper right corner to the center pavilion and then to the lower right and shows a repeated image of Amida and attendants first returning on a cloud with a recently deceased soul, then formally seated in the pavilion, and finally departing on another mission to earth to welcome another soul into paradise. (Freer and Sackler, Paradise)
This landscape is a natural scene with a few buildings. In this image the middle of the frame is the main focus for the viewer with what looks like a ridge with a building on top of it. This image is made up of six panels. Most of the detail is in the middle 3 panels but if the viewer looks closely to the outside panels, there are small details that create a continuation of the landscape. Then the artist used different values of grey on the imagewhich creates a sense of depth in the image, from the foreground to the background of the few mountains. This image is created with ink on paper panels. Sesson Shūkei, original name Satake Heizo (born 1504, Hitachi, Japan—died c. 1589, Iwashiro province) Japanese artist who was the most distinguished and individualistic talent among the numerous painters who worked in the style of Sesshū, the 15th-century artist considered the greatest of the Japanese suiboku-ga (“water-ink”) painters. (Britannica, Sesson-Shukei)
This image really encapsulates the ideas related to the Haboku style of landscape artworks. To make one of the calligraphic and highly-stylized Haboku paintings, the painter would visualize the image and then make swift broad strokes onto the paper, resulting in a splashed and abstract composition, all done with meditative concentration. This impressionistic style of painting was supposed to capture the true nature of the subject . The Sumi-e style was highly influenced by calligraphy, using the same tools and style as well as its Zen philosophy. To paint in this style the practitioner had to clear his mind and apply the brush strokes without too much thinking, termed mushin (無 "no mind state"? ) by the Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro. The concept of mushin is central to many Japanese arts including the art of the sword, archery, and the tea ceremony. (Boundless, Zen Ink Painting)
The Zen (in Chinese, Chan) Buddhist sect, which originated in China, stresses meditation as a means of attaining enlightenment. After Chinese monks established the first Zen monasteries in Japan under the patronage of the new warrior elite, Zen temples fostered the styles and themes of Chinese ink painting. Ink landscapes such as this one became a major genre of Japanese painting during the Muromachi period (1392–1573). Shubun (fl. ca. 1420–ca. 1463), a Zen Buddhist monk of high rank at the Shokokuji monastery in Kyoto, was considered the preeminent Japanese painter of the second quarter of the 15th century. His principal artistic achievement was representing limitless space in painting. Although many ink paintings, especially landscapes, have been attributed to Shubun, there is little scholarly agreement on the authorship of surviving works associated with his name. (Freer and Sackler, Landscape)
Sesshu's painting style also reflects Chinese sources in its emphasis on three-dimensional form and observation of the natural world. His interest in dramatic compositions emphasizing spatial depth can be seen in the large, gnarled branch in the foreground of the screen at left, which disappears into water and reemerges to frame a view of the distant, snow-covered mountains. Precise control of ink tones and brush technique, which Sesshu learned from his study of Chinese painting, enhance the expressive quality of this image. (Freer and Sackler, Birds and Flowers)
The Japanese style of minimal shapes and lines, is used throughout the culture. This style gives a great sense of depth in these images, and also a bit of mystery. Tan'yū headed the Kajibashi branch of the Kanō school in Edo and painted in many castles and the Imperial palace. He used a less bold but extremely elegant style, which tended to become stiff and academic in the hands of less-talented imitators. (Boundless, Kano School)
The "Three Dusks" or "Three Evening Poems" is a famous group of three poems by three different authors. The poems are recorded in the imperial poetry anthology Shin kokinshu, compiled in the early thirteenth century. The poem below, composed by the Buddhist monk Saigyo (1118–1190), is inscribed on this painting by Kano Tan'yu, one of the leading artists of the seventeenth century. While denying his heart, Even a priest must feel his body knows The depth of a sad beauty: From a marsh at autumn twilight Snipes that rise and wing away. Using only the palest tones of ink and tints of translucent color, Tan'yu has created a subtle and indefinite pictorial image that echoes the mood of the poem. The refined and elegant calligraphy of the inscription is attributed to Imperial Prince Ryosho (1622–1693), who became a Buddhist monk in 1634. (Freer and Sackler, Snipe)
Along with Kanô Eitoku (1543-1590) and Kaihô Yûshô (1533-1615), Hasegawa Tôhaku (1539-1610) was an active participant in the painting circles of the Momoyama period (1573-1615), and in his art he diligently explored the expressive range of ink and the effects of light. This pair of screens is Tôhaku's representative work, a masterpiece of early modern ink painting. A dense mist fills the entire picture; the pine grove of the left screen recedes deeply into the snow-covered mountains at the extreme right, while two groups of trees on the right screen incline towards each other and suggest the undulations of the ground. The brushwork used to depict the pine needles and background is rough. Walking through the thick mist, black shadows appear; you are surrounded by pine trees and can just detect the tops of mountains. The quiet scene, a momentary experience captured for eternity, evokes the rustic and refined realm of wabi ("elegant simplicity"). There are many enigmas about this pair of screens, which indicate that this might have been a preparatory work: the paper joints are irregular; the measurements of the width of the paper in the right and left screens are different; there is a divergence in the ground line; the cropping of the pine tree at the far right is unusual; and the seals for "Hasegawa" and "Tôhaku" at the outside edge of each screen are different from the standard seals for this artist. The theme of the painting draws on such subjects as Hamamatsu from the Japanese-style (J. yamato-e) landscape tradition. On the other hand, it is also a remarkable example of how the naturalistic ideas and ink-painting method of the Chinese painter-monk Mu Qi (active c. late thirteenth century) of the Southern Song dynasty (c. 1127-1279), much favored by Tôhaku, were embraced in Japan. (Emuseum, Pine Trees)
The Chinese theme of The Four Accomplishments of the scholarly gentleman became a popular subject of Japanese painting from the sixteenth century on. Painting and chess, two of the arts to be mastered by the ideal gentleman, are illustrated on the right-hand screen, while the left-hand screen shows calligraphy and musical performance on a stringed instrument, the Chinese qin or the Japanese koto. A tranquil, beautiful natural setting surrounds the scholars as they enjoy the company of kindred minds and the pleasures of their common interests. The idea of The Four Accomplishments must have appealed especially to Japanese warriors and nobles, who were the most important patrons of the arts in the late sixteenth century, when this pair of screens was painted. Mastery of several arts, including calligraphy, poetry, and music, had been a requirement of life in the Japanese imperial court since the Heian period (794–1185), and these ideals had been assimilated by the ascendant warrior class beginning in the late twelfth century. This painting has been attributed traditionally to Kano Eitoku (1543–1590), the leading artist of the Kano school during the Momoyama period (1573–1615). Artists of the Kano school were renowned for their mastery of subjects and techniques derived from Chinese ink painting, and also for their skills in producing large-scale paintings in full color and gold for architectural projects. (Freer and Sackler, The Four Accomplishments
A scene of autumn flowers and grasses, including bush clover, chrysanthemums, bellflowers, boneset, patrinia, eulalia, etc. applied on gold leaf to create an image of a wide plain. Autumn grasses or autumn plains were common subjects for screens but as this pair depicts a new moon on the right-hand screen and Mount Fuji on the left, we know it to be a picture of the Musashino plains. In ancient poems we hear that: ‘Musashino is a place devoid of peaks behind which the moon may set, just white clouds over the grasses’, or ‘Musashino is a place with no mountains behind which the moon may set, it rises and sets in the grasses’. This kind of design became popular in the Momoyama period, later becoming standardized during the Edo period. In this work, the grasses are large and depicted with vigor while Mt. Fuji is portrayed in ink with great grandeur, the entire picture overflowing with the richness of nature, making it clear that it was painted in the period before the subject had been reduced to a formalized pattern. There is no signature or seal to identify the artist, but judging from the style, it is thought to be the work of an artist belonging to the Hasegawa school, one theory being that it is by HASEGAWA Togaku (? - 1623), son-in-law of the school’s founder, HASEGAWA Tohaku (1539-1610), another being that it was carried out by Tohaku himself in cooperation with his eldest son, Kyuzo (1568-93). Works in a similar style by the Hasegawa school can be seen in the wall paintings of Chishaku-in Temple, created by Tohaku’s studio, the ‘Bush Clover and Eulalia Screen’ by Tohaku, or Totaku’s ‘Autumn Grasses Screen’ (Nanzen-ji Temple). The Hasegawa School was founded by HASEGAWA Tohaku (1539 - 1610), who also referred to himself as the ‘Fifth Generation Sesshu’ at the same time that UNKOKU Togan was insisting that he was Sesshu’s true successor. (Google Art Project, Musashino Plains)
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