The Rimpa School and Autumn Colors in Japanese Art – Celebrating the Rimpa School’s 400th Anniversary
Yamatane Museum of Art(山種美術館)
3-12-36 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0012, Japan


In 2015, we celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the founding of an art colony north of Kyoto by Hon’ami Kōetsu, the founding father of the Rimpa school. To commemorate that significant event in Rimpa history, the Yamatane Museum of Art is holding an exhibition focusing on the Rimpa school and Rimpa-related aesthetics.

During the Edo period, the artistic lineage founded by Tawaraya Sōtatsu and Hon’ami Kōetsu was sustained, generation after generation. It has since influenced many Nihonga artists from the Meiji period on. Since ancient times, people in Japan, with its rich natural environment, have cultivated their love of nature’s beauty throughout the four seasons of the year. Rimpa artists, in particular, regarded the expression of the seasons as an important theme and delicately depicted the flowers and other seasonal features, using a great variety of techniques.

This exhibition presents works on subjects unique to the Rimpa school by Sōtatsu, Kōrin, Ogata Kenzan, Sakai Hōitsu, Suzuki Kiitsu with a distinctive sense of the seasons. It also includes characteristically Rimpa-style works by modern and contemporary Nihonga artists who have studied the Rimpa school and emulated it in their work. They are accompanied by works that convey a sense of the moods of autumn, often found in Rimpa paintings. We hope you will enjoy these three approaches in this exhibition.

The exhibitions include works by Rimpa artists and modern and contemporary artists influenced by the Rimpa aesthetic. The highlights include Fragment of the Shinkokinshū Poetry Anthology: Deer(painting by Tawaraya Sōtatsu, calligraphy by Hon’ami Kōetsu), in which a deer, an autumnal motif, is rendered in gold and silver pigments. In Puppy, Sōtatsu has used the tarashikomi technique to create pooled, blurred colors. The stand of trees in Chinese Black Pines and Maple Trees (attributed to Tawaraya Sōtatsu) generates a rhythmical effect. Hōitsu’s chrysanthemums, blooming majestically, create a vivid image in Chrysanthemums with Bird. In Fukuda Heihachirō’s Autumn Leaves, the simplified leaves in bright colors are eloquent. In his Puppy, Kobayashi Kokei echoes Sōtatsu’s use of tarashikomi in depicting an adorable young canine. In addition, Takeuchi Seihō’s Evening in Autumnand Okumura Togyū’s Squirrel give a sense of the affection with which they viewed small animals and other familiar creatures, while Kawai Gyokudō’s Autumn Landscape with Colored Maple Trees and Okuda Gensō’s lyrical Oriase Ravine: Autumn bring us blazing autumn foliage. These artists present the joys of the autumn landscape in all its variety and invite us to savor the deepening season as expressed in these paintings as the seasons transition around us.

1. Sakai Hōitsu, Autumn Plants and Quails (Important Art Object), Yamatane Museum of Art
2. Painting by Tawaraya Sōtatsu, Calligraphy by Hon’ami Kōetsu, Fragment of the Shinkokinshū, Poetry Anthology: Deer, Yamatane Museum of Art
3. Kawai Gyokudō, Autumn Landscape, with Colored Maple Trees, Yamatane Museum of Art
4. Kobayashi Kokei, Puppy, Private Collection
5. Fukuda Heihachirō, Autumn Leaves, Yamatane Museum of Art



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