Japan and rinpa art: Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858) 

Japan and rinpa art: Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637) and Tawaraya Sōtatsu (1570-1640) are the founding fathers of Rinpa art (Rimpa art). Hence, they were born during the centralization processes that engulfed Japan in this period of history. This finally culminated with the start of the Edo Period in 1603 – and which would last until the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

Throughout the longevity of this period and continuing after, with great artists including Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942), rinpa art appealed to many amazing artists. Thus the rich cultural foundation concerning the impact of Kyoto in the early seventeenth century – and the role of Nichiren Buddhist merchants – entailed that this art form connected naturally with high culture.

Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858) followed in the footsteps of many rinpa artists. Indeed, in modern times his artistic stature continues to grow despite parting from this world many years ago. Therefore, art exhibitions from Kyoto to Tokyo – and further afield – in modern times are attracting new generations to his amazing artwork.

The Nezu Museum says, “Suzuki Kiitsu inherited the Rinpa-style from Tawaraya Sōtatsu, Ogata Kōrin and Sakai Hōitsu, and imbued it with an individualistic sensibility that linked the style to the modern era.”

The MET Museum says, “Trained as a textile dyer, Kiitsu studied painting under Sakai Hōitsu (1761–1828), with whom he prepared an illustrated compendium of classic Rinpa art, One Hundred Paintings by Kōrin (Kōrin hyakuzu).”

In a past article, I state, “Of utmost acclaim is Kiitsu’s original screens depicting nature through the prism of the enchantment of summer and spring. Indeed, when viewing the Morning Glories and Mountain Stream in Summer and Autumn, one can feel the power of nature and rinpa at its sublime best.”


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