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Japanese Paintings

Posted by rafael on August 11, 2012 in News

Painting is a quite appreciated, respected, traditional and antique art in Japan; it has a wide variety of styles. According to several specialized sources, ceramic and bronze pieces dating back to 300 B.C. – 300 A.C. have been found with paintings showing geometric designs and figures, as well as murals dating back to 300-700 A.C.

As several experts state, in the 6th century, paintings with Buddhist images were the most popular in Japan. These works were commissioned by the ruling classes that were involved in the construction of a large number of temples. The ancient murals that survived this period include paintings on the walls of Horyu-ji Temple in Ikaruga, Nara, and depict episodes from Buddha’s life, and other deities as well.

Brief History about Japanese Paintings

Japanese painting has a unique and colorful history. As several publications affirm, Japanese pictorial arts were imported from Chinese. Koreans imported Chinese painting fundaments and style and later passed them to the Japanese. Thus, Japanese began imitating Chinese style, and were gradually adapting it to a more autochthonous style. Approximately in the 7th – 8th centuries it took place the rising of the landowner Japanese class, which began to move away the traditional noble class. Hence, a division in the Japanese painting style occurred; while the landowner class preferred realism, the noble class liked more conservatism.

Subsequently, at the beginning of Tokuwaga shogunate (1603) it was favoured an authentic style, known as the Kano school, which reflected colorful paints on screens or walls. Next, the predominant style was the Ukiyo-e, which was based on paintings reflecting an uninhibited lifestyle; therefore, the main topics of this painting were Kabuki Theater and brothels. After the Boshin War in 1968 that ended with the victory of Meiji emperor’s army, Western arts began influencing the Japanese style. Therefore, such well known Japanese painters as Yasui Sotaro, Ryuzaburo and Umehara studied with great painters like Pissarro and Renoir.

Nowadays, Japanese paintings are characterized by the innovation of modern artists who mix aspects of popular and classical art. This way, numerous Japanese painters use styles that are strongly influenced by popular culture. Probably, the most popular and well known of the Japanese contemporary painters is Takashi Murakami. This painter forms part of the famous Kaikai Kiki Studio, and his work focuses on Japanese society after the 2nd World War.

Main Characteristics of Japanese Painting Styles

The Japanese art has fairly different principles from Western Art. The Japanese art is based on the representation of a world in perfect serenity and harmony. Furthermore, Japanese people have always considered painting as an aesthetic, communicative and narrative art. Thus, over time there have been several Japanese paintings styles reflecting these aspects, such as the Yamayo-ou, the Ukiyo-e, and the Sumi-ê, among others. These styles have been used by artists in order to portrait and tell stories and tales through drawings. However, these stories suffer some kind of action, for instance, from nature, or even from the same tales, stories or legends, that begin interfering with the real life of the Japanese people.

A case in point is the Yamato-ou painting style, which is considered as a narrative painting. It was created by Tosa, a painter who used to narrate religious, biographical and historical events. As several publications explain, the Tosa school of Japanese painting was founded in the 15th century and it was devoted to those issues derived from the ancient Japanese art techniques. The origin of this school can be attributed to Tosa Yukihiro, who was the first to use the professional name of Tosa. Later, the school was officially founded by Tosa Mitsunobu (1434 – 1525) who served as an official painter in the imperial court.

In turn, the Ukiyo-e style was a Japanese painting style artists used to portray the bourgeois culture that was emerging in the Edo period (1603-1867) in Japan, along with all its pleasures and beauty. Over a long time Japan witnessed conflicts between different provinces. Therefore, this style was mainly used to represent scenes of everyday life and beijin-ga themes (portray of beautiful women).

According to art specialists, this style began by painting portraits of prostitutes involved in mundane activities, and sex manuals, but it soon became a delicate form of art, portraying and highlighting female beauty. It can be said that some Western painters like Vincent van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Edgar Degas were influenced by the Ukiyo-e style. The philosophy of this style is to enjoy every moment of life; as some experts put it, the world here and now. This way, painters used to paint facts of every day life on wooden blocks, and the production of these paintings was massive.

While initially the technique used only the black and white contrast, later painters began working with green, yellow, red and orange shades. Among the most renowned painters linked to this style were Igusa Kuniyoshi, who used to paint human figures; Ando Hiroshigue and Katsushika Hokusai, who painted landscapes; and Utamaro, who used to paint female figures.

On the other hand the Sumi-ê (also known as Sumiê) is an Eastern painting style that appeared in China in the 2nd century of the Christian era, and was later taken to Japan. There, it has become in a widespread painting style, where painters use Indian ink and mix designs with Japanese calligraphy, creating an art that has a full oriental pattern.

As experts explain, the word Sumiê has Japanese roots and means painting with ink. The concepts underlying this artistic expression do not have any connection or influence from the Western art. First, due to the fact that the concept of mixing drawings in India ink with Japanese calligraphy is an art that exclusively belongs to the East. Second, because for the Japanese people it is essential that artists convey a simple message leaving no room to misinterpretations.

If you need further information about this issue check the links below:

  1. http://www.artelino.com/articles/japanese-painting.asp
  2. http://web-japan.org/museum/paint.html
  3. http://www.britannica.com/art/Japanese-art

Apart from the researching fields like science and information technology, Japan has produced a large number of significant and unforgettable artists for it. Japanese paintings are just one of them. Japanese paintings cover a wide range of styles, techniques and depict almost every emotion a person can go through. Japanese Painting is the media which everyone makes use of in order to communicate.

These paintings cover a large variety of techniques and tricks that make these paintings truly a significant piece of art and Japanese asset. Japanese paintings have a very long and rich history. It ranges from somewhere round the 10th millennium, to present.These paintings are one of the oldest pieces of art that Japan have. It encompasses and incorporates a wide range of genres and styles. Once you take a look at a Japanese painting, you will have no way but to get mesmerized. They really get you indulged in them once you get your eyes on.

Japanese Paintings

Japanese Paintings

These paintings can be a great decorating piece if you look at them from a decorative view. To learn Japanese paintings is something that might be considered to be difficult. The more you get into their depth, the more confusing they turn out to be. There are many schools teaching Japanese paintings. Some of the most famous are Suibokuga, Kano painting school, Tosa-ha, Nanga and Shijo painting school.

These schools used to teach a variety of subjects to add more worth to the paintings and to produce even talented Japanese painters. Their techniques were totally different from what you might see in regular art schools. The main subjects taught in those schools include shiki-e, meisho-e, monogatari-e, nanban-byobu, kabuki-e, and bijinga.There are many online websites and tutorials too that you can take advantage of if there is no school near you. But still these tutorials will not be as much in depth as you cover in school. Yet they are a good way to get started.

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