Japan Art and Horses: Kano to Sosaku Hanga

Japan Art and Horses: Kano to Sosaku Hanga

Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese art schools of Kano and Tosa were instrumental in Japan concerning art, aesthetics, and high culture. Kano Tanshin (Morimasa) was born in 1653 and died in 1718. His stunning art piece above highlights the natural beauty of horses.

Yet, despite the longevity of both art schools (Kano and Tosa) – a rebellious anti-Kano movement materialized during the Edo Period. Accordingly, Tanshin fuses various aspects of both artistic schools alongside his independent thought patterns. 

Sadly, little is known about Aoyama Seizan (art above). However, it is known that he was active in the 1920s and 1930s during a period of dramatic change in Japan. Also, his series concerning Zen-style horses were created for the Shima Art Company.

Aoyama Seizan produced amazing Zen-style horses. Hence, despite the limited use of color, a very atmospheric feeling persists.

The final art piece is by Maekawa Senpan (1888-1960), who was born during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Initially, he studied oil painting under the acclaimed Asai Chū – one of several esteemed instructors – at the Kansai Art Academy. However, he is known artistically for his sosaku hanga (creative prints).

The British Museum says, “Maekawa was born in Kyoto, the younger brother of a minor print-artist, Asaga Manjiro (1885-1965). He studied at the Kansai Bijutsuin from 1905, at first with Asai Chu (1856-1907), and moved to Tokyo in 1911 where he began his long career as a cartoonist on the magazine ‘Tokyo Puck’. In Tokyo he was inspired by Minami Kunzo (1883-1950) to take up self-carved woodblock printing, which he taught himself over a long period.”

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