RINPA: Classical Connections
New York Asia Week
September 5 15, 2012
Mon-Sat, 11am 5pm
Extended Weekend Hours
September 29 October 1, 2012
Scholten Japanese Art is pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition: Rinpa: Classical Connections, opening September 5th, 2012. This exhibition is inspired by two important exhibitions of Rinpa art here in New York: the first, currently on view now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art (through January 13, 2013) and the forthcoming major retrospective exhibition at the Japan Society Gallery, Silver Wind: The Arts of Sakai Hoitsu opening on September 29, 2012.
Rinpa (or Rimpa) is a highly stylized genre of painting, calligraphy, and decorative arts (including ceramic and lacquer designs). Unlike other Japanese painting styles (such as the Tosa school patronized by the Kyoto courts or the Kano school supported by the samurai class) which were preserved and sustained through generations of artists working within a tradition of masters and students, Rinpa did not develop from a formal family lineage or school. It was simply a shared appreciation of a particular style and technique that was transmitted only intermittently, with periodic revivals approximately one hundred years apart.
Rinpa was first developed by two multi-talented Kyoto artists, Tawaraya Sotatsu (fl. ca. 1600-1640) and his frequent collaborator, Hon'ami Koetsu (1558-1637). The earliest work in this exhibition will be a sumi ink painting of Tekkai Sennin by Tawaraya Sotatsu. Although none of Sotatsu and Koetsu's pupils achieved their masters' fame, their foremost admirer was Ogata Korin (1658-1716) - for whom the entire genre is named. The term 'Rinpa' is an early Meiji Period (late 19th century) classification which was derived from the second syllable, -rin, of Korin, hence Rin-pa, or 'school of Rin.' Although later scholarship came to recognize that Korin was not the originator of the style, the term endures, and Rinpa (Rimpa) effectively encompasses this loosely associated genre.
While the Rinpa tradition first blossomed in the Imperial capital of Kyoto with the artistic efforts of Koetsu, Sotatsu and Korin, by the 18th century the style emerged in the political and economic capital of Edo (the so-called 'eastern capital'), where it was developed to a high degree by Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828).
In his early years, Hoitsu studied a variety of contemporary paintings styles, including Kano, Nagasaki and Ukiyo-e, before focusing on the style of Korin. While Hoitsu had no direct teacher in the Rinpa line, he learned by copying works of Korin and Koetsu which he was fortunate enough to have access to from his family's collection. His distinctive style contributed to a revival of Rinpa and the establishment of a new line of artists.
This exhibition includes works by Hoitsu, his contemporaries and his followers. A gassaku (collaborative work by two or more artists) painting of red and white peony blossoms bending in a rain shower bears an inscription by Kameda Bosai (1752-1826) with a poem signed Bosai rojin sui dai (by drunken aged Bosai), with artist's seals Zenshin and Choko no in:
Viewing peony blossoms in December,
fine fragrance and bright red color,
drizzling rain of the early evening of spring
Another Hoitsu painting, Jurojin with a Crane (both symbols of longevity), is inscribed with a poem (likely by Hoitsu) that further references longevity:
The plum is associated with both the winter and old age (as in the winter of life). The south star is Jurojin himself, in Chinese mythology he is the Taoist deification of Canopus, the brightest star of the southern constellation Carina.
Following the models set by Hoitsu, many gifted pupils developed the Rinpa style. While earlier Rinpa artists tended to focus primarily on decorative motifs either derived from nature or Japanese literary sources, later Rinpa artists expanded their repertoire of subjects to include a broad range of subjects including views of daily life.
The show (to date) includes one painting Tawaraya Sotatsu, four paintings by Sakai Hoitsu, two paintings by Sakai Oho (1808-1841). Additional pre-modern works will be announced.
Following the precedent set by the current presentation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Scholten is including 20th and 21st century Rinpa-style works in this exhibition. Lesley Kehoe Galleries (Melbourne, Australia) have generously loaned a remarkable pair of folding screens, aptly titled Ode to Rinpa: Pine and Bridge, (gold foil, tin foil, antique washi, persimmon juice, sumi ink, 2008), by the contemporary artist Maio Motoko.
For the duration of the exhibition, September 5 - 15, the gallery will have general open hours (no appointments needed) Mon. - Sat., 11am to 5pm.
The exhibition will be on view through October 5th, and there will be a special open house weekend September 29th - October 1 (no appointments needed, 11 am 5 pm) to coincide with a symposium related to the Hoitsu exhibition at the Japan Society on September 29th and a program related to the ongoing Rinpa exhibition the following day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.