The calligraphy across the surface of this painting tells us that Buncho painted this image of a rock after contemplating on the ancient Chinese painting technique called Kayo-shuhou. This technique...
The calligraphy across the surface of this painting tells us that Buncho painted this image of a rock after contemplating on the ancient Chinese painting technique called Kayo-shuhou. This technique was established in the late Nanto era (937 - 975) by Togen. It was mainly used to express contrast between light and shadow in mountains and rocks with lines that imitated the veins of hasu (lotus) leaves. Kayo-shuhou also served an intellectual purpose. It became an emphatic way to express the philosophical aspect of the mountains or rocks in Chinese paintings, and provoked the viewers to engage in scholastic conversations.
At first glance, the painting appears to imitate Chinese masterworks that employed the Kayo-shuhou technique. However, a closer examination of Buncho's Rock gradually reveals the fundamental difference between his and the Chinese masters’ works. In Buncho's painting, the air around the rock, and the very spirit of the rock, seem to invite us to immerse ourselves in the pleasure of the painting rather than to derive the philosophical meaning of the rock in our mind. Like many other artists in Japan, Tani Buncho studied Chinese painting closely. But as shown here, he used his knowledge to master their technique, only to subvert and shape his inspiration into a work of truly Japanese essence.
About this Artist:
Tani, Buncho (1763 - 1841) was a son of a poet and samurai Tani, Rokkoku (1729 -1809). With Maruyama Okyo and Kano Tanyu, he is considered one of the “three masters” of the Edo period.