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Scholten Japanese Art Gallery
Autumn Leaves: Japanese Works of Art

In conjunction with New York's September 2002 Asia Week, Scholten Japanese Art is proud to present Autumn Leaves: Japanese Works of Art. Inspired by the Japanese love of nature and appreciation of seasonal changes, the exhibition will display paintings, lacquer, screens, woodblock prints, netsuke, and kimono–all suggesting autumnal images.

Keichu tigerProminent in the exhibition are the numerous hanging scrolls depicting tigers. According to traditional Chinese cosmology, and believed by the Japanese, tigers are considered one of the four sacred creatures, as well as representing autumn. Symbols of courage and strength, they can be seen in Ohashi Suiseki's (1865-1945) Tiger in Moonlight. Suiseki's meticulous rendering of tigers was what awarded him a gold medal at the Paris Exposition in 1900. Quite different from Suiseki's tiger is an early 19th century painting by Keichu. Still powerful, this tiger is a bit more comical with his compressed head and bulging eyes, suggestive of the Nagasaki school of painters.

Traditionally, the tiger was depicted among bamboo and was often paired with a dragon amidst swirling clouds. Together the two images represented opposite principles in nature. The much-feared tiger was associated with hunger, wind, and termination of life–symbolic of the autumn. In contrast, the dragon could create mist and rain, and was thus associated with spring and new beginnings. Included in this exhibition are two hanging scroll diptychs illustrating this classical pairing. One pair by Kishi Gantai (1782-1865) takes the viewer's breath away as the ferocious tiger and mythical dragon seem to jump off the paper. This suiboku (black ink painting) rendering bears little resemblance to traditional images, but is a rather joyous creation of the artist's imagination. In contrast, Ranko's (1766-1830) duo is a more subdued interpretation in a soft ink wash.

Also included in the exhibition are works of art by Tomizo Saratani, a contemporary lacquer artist with strong ties to the traditional Japanese masters. Saratani has built a reputation for himself worldwide, and his high quality pieces are sought after internationally. One outstanding piece by Saratani that SJA is featuring is the lacquer panel, It's Beginning to Feel Like Winter, depicting autumnal leaves and gold lacquer ants amidst swirling black waves with a hakeme-tonsabi shitaji foundation. The technique, conceived by Saratani, is similar to shibonuri (combing wet lacquer). However, with Saratani's technique, the waves are made by combing a rough brush (hake) in the foundation (shitaji) before drying. Another Saratani show-stopper is a 118.6 cm. high black lacquer cabinet trimmed in silver and mother-of-pearl with a water dragon and air dragon motif on the interior doors. A special piece for the artist, he labored over the cabinet on and off over a period of twenty years.

The exhibition opens September 14, 2002 and continues through October 1, 2002. Scholten Japanese Art is open Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 5pm, by appointment. To schedule an appointment please call 212.585.0474.