Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Colorful Realm of Living Beings, Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800)

 Looking for inspiration for my next painting I went to the website of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, part of the Smithsonian in Washington DC- one of our national treasures.  This past exhibition, floored me. It is unutterably beautiful. Below is a brief explanation of this exhibit. If you care to learn more here is the exhibition's link. http://www.nga.gov/feature/jakuchu/haiku/about.shtm
Why contemporary western culture and with eastern cultures rapidly following  suit, are so focused on ugliness, is beyond me. People in the past lived lives far more difficult then our own.
Here is an article with slides from a review of this show from the New York Times. They are very large in scale. http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/03/30/arts/design/20120330-REALM.html
This review from the New York Times is quite ironic considering that since the eminent critic Hilton Kramer left in 1982 to found an alternative cultural journal, The New Criterion in 1982, his replacement, Roberta Smith has been largely responsible for  flogging the most execrable 'artistic' junk that goes for contemporary 'art' these days.

There is also a wonderful Hokusai exhibition, and biography. Hosukai did not paint his masterpiece "The Wave" from "100 Views of Mount Fuji" until he was 70. He considered himself a beginner at 50.  http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/hokusai/launch.htm#

Colorful Realm of Living Beings, a 30-scroll set of paintings by Itō Jakuchū, is one of Japan's most renowned cultural treasures. This extraordinary work, which had never before been displayed in its entirety outside of Japan, was on view at the National Gallery of Art for one month only. Created over a span of some 10 years (c. 1757–1766), the series presents a range of subjects from the natural world—birds, fish, insects, reptiles, flowers, and plants.

Itō Jakuchū (1716–1800) lived during Japan's peaceful Edo period. Born into a wealthy family of merchants that operated a wholesale foodstuffs business in Kyoto, Jakuchū retired from the family business in 1755 to pursue the study of Zen Buddhism and the practice of painting. His innovative and experimental style was influenced by the study of Chinese painting at Zen temples, the patterns and designs of Kyoto textiles, natural history collections, and direct observation of nature.
"Flowers, birds, grasses, and insects each have their own innate spirit. Only after one has actually determined the true nature of this spirit through observation should painting begin."
—Itō Jakuchū


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