Kacho Fugetsu: Natural Beauty in Japanese Art
New York Asia Week
March 12-21, 2015
11 am 5 pm
Scholten Japanese Art is pleased to present, Kacho Fugetsu: Natural Beauty in Japanese Art, an exhibition devoted to images of nature. The Japanese title, Kacho Fugetsu is comprised of the kanji (characters) for flower (ka), bird (cho), wind (fu) and moon (getsu) and is collectively referred to as the 'beauties of nature.' The theme of kacho fugetsu encompasses everything that is not of the man-made world, and reflects a heightened awareness of nature which is fundamental to traditional Japanese society and artistic sensibilities.
So much of Japanese art is devoted to images of natural subjects (kacho-ga, lit. bird and flower pictures) that in some ways it is difficult to recognize it as a distinct subject. However, in Japanese artistic traditions nature is central to all schools and genres and kacho-ga has long been recognized as one of three distinctive artistic categories originally based on Chinese classification along with sansui-ga (lit. 'mountains and water' or landscapes pictures) and jinbutsu-ga (figural pictures or portraits) which is commonly portrayed in the form of bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful people).
The exhibition will be comprised of paintings and woodblock printed works. An ink on silk hanging scroll by Watanabe Seitei (1851-1918), Autumn Night (Aki no yo), depicts stems of fujibakama (lit. 'purple flowers' associated with autumn) bending under the weight of their pale pinkish-lavender blossoms with a full moon in the background. The simple composition and the delicate brushwork illustrating the flowers and the moon quietly captures nature in a way that exemplifies the kacho fugestu theme. Seitei was an accomplished painter who was particularly well-known for his sensitive depictions of kacho-ga in paintings, book illustrations as well as designs for ceramics and cloisonné.
Another print in the exhibition by the artist Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) raises the bar for woodblock printing techniques even further. Numazaki Pasture (Numazaki bokujo) from circa 1927 measures nearly 2 feet by just over 2 1/2 feet (23 7/8 by 31 1/8 in.) and is one of the largest prints Yoshida ever produced and his fourth attempt at such a grand-scaled print. In order to handle the large sheets of paper he used three printers working in shifts that changed every five sheets. Although the edition was intended to run to 80 impressions, apparently only 59 were completed because the large prints were so technically challenging and expensive to produce. It's extremely unusual to find an impression in good condition not only because so few were made but also because of the large size they were rarely stored safely.
The exhibition will present approximately ten paintings including works by: Watanabe Seitei (1851-1918), Mochizuki Gyokkei (1874-1938), Konoshima Okoku (1877-1938), Yamamura Koka (1885-1942), Tokuoka Shinsen (1896-1972), and Torii Kotondo (1900-1976); and approximately twenty woodblock printed works by various artists including Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Imao Keinen (1845-1923), Takahashi Hiroaki (Shotei, 1871-1945), Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950), Hashiguchi Goyo (1880-1921), Kawase Hasui (1883-1957), Yamamura Koka (1885-1942), and Toshi Yoshida (1911-1995).
Scholten Japanese Art is located at 145 West 58th Street, Suite 6D, between 6th and 7th Avenues. For the duration of the exhibition during Asia Week, March 12 21, the gallery will have general open hours (no appointments needed), 11 5 pm.
March 12- 21, 11 - 5 pm
Otherwise by appointment