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TOP > TERRADA MAGAZINE > ART > Ink and Gold: Paintings of the Kanō School



Ink and Gold: Paintings of the Kanō School

Two artforms loved by shoguns


In the turbulent fifteenth to sixteenth century, when the Ashikaga shoguns, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the warloads battled for supremacy, the Kanō school survived along with those in power. Eventually Tokugawa Ieyasu welcomed the Kanō school artists as the shogunate’s official painters, and the school reigned as the leader of the art world throughout the Edo period. This exhibition examines the Kanō school paintings from aspects of “ink and gold” – brilliant monochrome ink paintings and gold-foiled screens.

1225_01One of the exhibited works, Sericulture and Weaving, depicts landscapes of the four seasons with thirteen scenes of people raising silkworms and weaving. With his brushstrokes on the rigid, rocky mountains and the mist produced by blurring ink, Kanō Masanobu skillfully absorbed the essence of Chinese ink painting into his techniques. His compositional skill in bringing together these many scenes is remarkable.

Representing “gold” is Kanō Tan’yū’s Two Chinese Emperors. It depicts Huang Di and Shun, two of the illustrious five Chinese emperors, who regulated the empire by bestowing boats, carts, stringed instruments and song. Tan’yū crafted the hovering gold clouds by pasting gold leaf and sprinkling finely-cut gold leaf, and added volume to the clouds by applying a slightly different color of gold. These and other techniques are not to be missed.

Monochrome ink paintings are so powerful that they make us feel color, and gold that embodies the aesthetic of decoration. Relive the two artistic trends that captivated the warlords and shoguns.

(Text: Naoko Aono)

Ink and Gold: Paintings of the Kanō School
Dates: January 10 (Wed) – February 12 (Mon, holiday), 2018
Venue: Nezu Museum 6-5-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Times: 10:00 – 17:00 Closed Mondays (open February 12)
Admission: 1100 yen (general)
Contact: Tel. 03-3400-2536

Sericulture and Weaving, attributed to Kanō Motonobu, pair of six-panel folding screens
Japan, Muromachi period, 16th century Nezu Museum
Two Chinese Emperors, by Kanō Tan’yū, pair of six-panel folding screens
Japan, Edo period, dated 1661 Nezu Museum


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