Japan art and Watanabe Shikō (1683-1755)

Japan art Watanabe Shikō (1683-1755)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The acclaimed Japanese artist Watanabe Shikō (1683-1755) remains a mystery. This concerns limited information and a wide array of different opinions about his life.

He was shaped intellectually and culturally by the environs of the Kansai region. Hence, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, and other important spiritual and cultural places helped his artistic development. Therefore, the world of Buddhism – and the power of Confucianism – shaped his political thinking.

Watanabe Shikō fused Kano-style art and rinpa (rimpa) to create a distinctive style. Equally, irrespective of his background, he was known in Imperial circles.

In the art piece below, the Bonhams website says, “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.”

Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716) inspired Watanabe Shikō. Accordingly, his art is extremely intriguing – and the same concerns the political ideals he held.

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