Japan art and the fusion of ideas: Watanabe Shikō (1683-1755)

Japan art and the fusion of ideas: Watanabe Shikō (1683-1755)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artists Watanabe Shikō (1683-1755) was born during the first century of the Edo Period. However, his early life is like a jigsaw with many missing pieces. Therefore, differences of opinion have emerged about Watanabe.

Irrespective of this, he was born in the cultural environment of Kyoto. Hence, the arts, high culture, and the influence of Buddhism ticked strongly in his world.

In time, Watanabe would become known for rinpa (rimpa) art. However, his early style belongs to the Kano School of Art. Therefore, the fusion of these cultural art forms and ideas enhanced his art.

In another art piece, I state, “Little is known about his early life apart from information in the diary of the esteemed Konoe family and his relationship with Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716) and his brother Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743). Yet, the fact that Watanabe knew the artist Kōrin from a young age points to his early artistic talent.”

The Bonhams website says (art piece above) about his art piece focused on birds, “This painting demonstrates Shiko’s versatility and technical abilities with the native brush. The artist has created an interesting contrast of several different styles. The heavy tree trunk which dominates the composition is rendered with a swift upward thrust whilst the overhanging willow branches and the outline of the river are rendered more finely and the birds are executed in a mild, restrained and naturalistic style.”

Overall, the beauty of Watanabe is that he followed two art forms that highlight the rich cultural heritage of Japan. Hence, the longevity of time doesn’t impede on the beauty he created through the medium of art.


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