Japan art and Ohara Koson: Kacho-ga art of birds and nature
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Kacho-ga art literally refers to images of birds and flowers in Japan. Hence, the esteemed artist Ohara Koson (1877-1945) focused on nature related to animals, birds, flowers, insects, and plants. Therefore, despite also doing other types of art concerning woodblock prints, his art of Kacho-ga notably stands out.
Similar to other artists in Japan, he had several names. Thus Ohara Koson, Ohara Hōson, and Ohara Shōson are the same person. He studied under Suzuki Kason (1860–1919) and produced art related to the Russo-Japanese War.
The Ota Memorial Museum of Art says, “Ohara Koson (1877-1945) was a kacho-ga artist active from the end of the Meiji period and through the Taisho and Showa periods. Although there are many collectors of Koson and exhibitions are held abroad, he is hardly known in Japan. However, in September 2018, an exhibition “Ohara Koson – An Eden of Flowers and Birds” was held at Chigasaki City Museum of Art. Moreover, an E-Television program showcasing Koson and the exhibition was broadcast, and suddenly he has been drawing attention. In addition, a string of books about his art will be published, and in the current booming Japanese-style art world, without doubt, he is an artist on the edge of breaking through and set to rise in popularity in his native Japan.”
He worked with several publishers over his career. Thus he signed his art under the name Koson while working with the publishers Akiyama Buemon (Kokkeidō) and Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya). While working under the publisher Kawaguchi, he signed his art under the name Hōson. Finally, while working under Watanabe Shōzaburō – notable for Shin Hanga (New Prints) – he signed his art under the name Shōson.
The intricate style of his art naturally appeals to the lover of birds and various angles concerning nature. Hence, despite not being the most famous of artists in Japan emanating from this period of history, his genre of art still appeals greatly to an audience that likes this art form.
His depictions in this art piece highlight a lovely touch where birds come alive in natural scenes. The gentle backdrop of tree branches, reeds, the moon, and other features is also a delight.
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