Japanese art and Ike no Taiga: China, Kyoto and the invisible if born today

Japanese art and Ike no Taiga: China, Kyoto, and invisible if born today

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Time

The youth of Ike no Taiga (1723-1776) shatters the myths of stratification and backwardness. On the contrary, he belonged to a world where Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism and high culture had the ascendancy: compared to materialism, the limited knowledge (in general) of the literary and cultural world that served Japan long before and during the Edo period, and the modern world glorifying nothingness (sports stars, movie stars, etc. – this eats away at Japan in the UK). Therefore, the world he belonged to allowed him to develop his art – and the gateways to the world of high culture immediately opened despite the poverty in which he was born.

Kyoto allowed Taiga to grow and develop. Consequently, the religions and philosophies of Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and Taoism ticked mightily in his world – unlike the monotonous nature of secularism in modern Japan which is shallow in comparison. Taiga breathed in the world of art, calligraphy, the spiritual dimensions of gardens, literature, poetry and other areas of Japanese high culture that borrowed heavily from the classical world of China. (the middle Empire).

The Kyoto National Museum says, “Eighteenth-century Kyoto produced some of the most distinctive and original painters in Japanese history, including great names such as Maruyama Ōkyo (1733–1795) and Itō Jakuchū (1716–1800). But even among this star-filled lineup, the artist Ike no Taiga (1723-1776), stands with fellow painter Yosa Buson (1716-1783) as the leader of the Chinese-influenced literary style of painting known under the name of Nanga (“Painting of the South”. ”). Taiga’s works are done in a lively and unfettered style, meant to illustrate the artist’s generous and humble character and his indifference to fame and fortune.

MIHO Museum says, “Ike-no-Taiga (1723-1776) was a painter known as one of the greats of Japanese literate painting, yet he steered clear of a position as a distant literate painter. He did not insist on a strict adherence to a purely literary style of painting, but rather always intended to bring new ideas and pictorial viewpoints into his work. Western-style pictorial expression was one such view. There are famous anecdotes regarding Taiga’s fascination with landscape prints brought to Japan from the West, and the veracity of these accounts is confirmed by Taiga’s realistic “true view” depictions, such as his True View of Mount Asama. . »

Ironically, although Japan is mostly isolated from the rest of the world (according to historical writings) during the Edo period – the narrow windows that allowed Chinese and Western high culture were highly valued by artists, the world of literature, etc. This is particularly the case of China.

Unlike modern Japan and its endless anti-Chinese rhetoric from politicians and the media in the realm of geopolitics – or the lack of interest in classical Chinese and Japanese culture to a powerful degree that existed in the world of taiga – it is the modern world that is more narrow-minded and culturally backward (In the UK, for example, Bede, Cuthbert, Tyndale, etc. will on the whole play second fiddle – if played at all – to the world of materialism, secularism, multiculturalism, gender identity, the glorification of wealthy cinema and sports elites and so-called social media influencers). Therefore, the minor windows that were opened during the Edo period were more powerful than the whole openness of culture in modern Japan that is truly reduced to snippets during holidays – or customs with little to do with real meaning.

If Taiga had been born into the same level of poverty in modern Japan – in which he was born during the Edo period: then the same openness of high culture would have closed the door to him. Likewise, the artistic, cultural, religious and philosophical world would not have been his natural route out of poverty. Consequently, his world is shaking up the world of Japan – and other nations in a cultural sense.


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