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Japanese Painting

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Japanese PaintingThe Japanese painting is one of the most unique and exclusive phenomenon in the world culture which stipulates the concern in it from art historian and simply amateurs of beautiful things from all over the world. Actually, the development of the painting on the Japanese islands isolated and thus not exposed to the foreign cultural influence appeared to be of exceptional nature. The painting of Japan reflected the special vision of natives of this country to the world showing the specific philosophy to the Japanese. And here the exclusivity of the painting content in Japan matched with the variety of types of art works. Apart from screens and wall paintings so customary for the perception of the Europeans, the works of art include silky and paper rolls decorated with prints, special album sheers and flamboyant fans.

Unlike the medieval Europe where the church art completely dominated up to the epoch of the Renaissance, the history of Japanese painting describes several stages of development each of them is characterized with special features and signs. The first stage to distinguish against the graphic works we are familiar with today is the period of Nara period (middle of VII - end of VIII centuries) which includes the painting of the Horudzi temple which easily shows influence of Chinese and some Indian painting traditions. The next stage is called Heyan (beginning of XVII - end of XII centuries). This is the long stage which is marked with the longest improvement of the temple painting art and first samples of social art as the illustrations to novels and stories for the entertainment of the nobles.

The stage of Kamakura (the end of XII - first half of XIV centuries) is marked with the change of style and spirit of the Japanese painting. When the entire atmosphere of paintings and pictures was optimistic, joyful and delicate, then the step was made to the aspect of real images to add some ascetic, practical and almost military nature. The basic plots for the paintings were the scenes of battles from the mythological legends and historical chronicles, religious scenes from Shintoistic tales and Buddhist traditions. Portrays of military, governmental and religious persons was highly popular.

The period of Muromati (the first half of XIV - the second half of XVI centuries) symbolized the tendency in the Japanese painting which is mostly familiar to the solid mass of foreigners. Under the influence of philosophy of the Zen Buddhism followers the great popularity won the landscape painting while the most delicate was the monochromic technique.   It told the particular affect of the Chinese landscape painting and thus, the most famous Japanese artist of that epoch, Toe Oda Ода aka Sassu, first painted the landscapes while traveling throughout China and he developed this tendency when he arrived back to his motherland.

Throughout the consequent periods of development of cultural Japanese painting, Monoyama (the second half of XVI - beginning of XVII centuries) and Edo (beginning of XVII - middle of XIX centuries), this tendency went on actively developed and enriched in aspects. The monochromic painting became more delicate and elegant and the great attention was paid to the through elaboration of details and the artists experimented and used the approaches and techniques used for rolls and screens to wall paintings and vise versa. And here the scenes and plots were not limited in landscapes and mass scenes and psychological scenes became more popular and demanded where one or several characters are depicted when showing emotions of human being. Apart from traditional painting since the middle of the XVIII century in Japan the wood engraving was developed of two basic types as the theater engraving with works of the famous master Tesusay Syaraku and engraving works for household with founders as Sudzuki Harunobu and Kitagava Utamaro.

When talking about the Japanese painting as about the modern items to collect, it concerns the tough situation. The Japanese painting is not demanded by the foreign collectors in the sphere of Japanese painting amateurs. It is difficult to explain it and most obvious that the matter is unusual appearance of Japanese images and lack of promotion of the Japanese works of art among the wealthy collectors of art from other countries. The Japanese netsuke is the accessory to win the highest popularity throughout the world as tiny items from metal, wood, bone or china as funny figurines of animals, bugs or people. The most enormous foreign collection of netsuke is located in the British Museum.

And therefore the Japanese painting is mostly demanded in the country among the collectors for private and collective purposes. And it is noted that the real fashion to purchase the works of art in the business society in Japan proceeded after the World War II period. And it is easy to explain. First, it is the psychological factor when after the defeat from the American and Soviet Armies, after the nuclear attack of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after the shameful conditions of capitulation and location of US military base the Japanese elite need the triggering to restore the ideas of national greatness and the nourishment in patriotism rebirth. And in this view collecting and promoting of Japanese painting masterpieces was very appropriate. The second reason is too prosaic when following the European and American businessmen the Japanese businessmen realized that works of art appear the reliable long-term investments. And thus, they rushed to purchase the domestic paintings. Though, the Japanese collectors were keener on western paintings as items to win the best fame and, thus, the highest price. So, the Japanese painting is still demanded in governmental and public circles and societies and among the art historians rather than among wealthy collectors.

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