Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Abstract painting of Soga Shohaku

By yet another happy coincidence,
the Art Institute of Chicago has pulled up
a few 18th C. Japanese screens,
that seem to illustrate so well the point mentioned here regarding
the "Tao of painting" versus modern nihilism.

Above is a detail of a Shohaku screen,
and, of course, if you magnify a detail of anything,
nothing can be identifiable.

But this detail is about 30" high,
(i.e. it's the size of many entire paintings)

Here's another area from the adjoining screen.

Isn't it breathtaking ? (blow it up full size)

He's flying through space
(with the greatest of ease)

Elsewhere -- he does mange to put in things you might recognize
(but no need to hold that against him)

(more images can be found here . Apparently, Shohaku had a reputation as a difficult personality -- which would not be incongruent with the energy in the above horses)

Here's the entire screen
Soga Shohaku (1730-1781)


Blogger marlyat2 said...


I like what you do with Asian images so much--somehow you manage to convey something that is playful and profound at once. And I like these little windows onto a seamless and very foreign world.

You know, Rexroth's comments on these "statesmen artists" do apply to certain periods of Western literature--the wonderful courtier poets of the seventeenth-century, say, or the Puritans-and-after, or early twentieth-century Irish literature (Yeats as senator!)

April 09, 2007  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...


Now how the heck am I supposed to get any rest at all when I click on a detail and am whisked away on some invisible giant's sleeping breath, while leaves and villages and horses swirl all around?


SFX: Rummaging around, looking for something simpler and duller to help her cast off for sleep.

April 09, 2007  
Anonymous Gawain said...

Chris, my man, your blog is an absolute delight. this is the only time when i actually MISS the internet!

April 11, 2007  

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