Japan art and Yanagisawa Kien (1703-1758)

Japan art and Yanagisawa Kien (1703-1758)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Yanagisawa Kien (1703-1758) took up art from a very young age. Spirituality was very important to Kien. This notably concerns the teachings of Confucius and Zen Buddhism (Ōbaku-shū). However, Shintoism will have impacted Kien – along with philosophies including Taoism.

Kien came from the samurai class. His father rose high within the Yanagisawa clan of samurai during the Edo Period. However, the lure of high culture appealed greatly to Kien from a very early age.

In time, he became a pioneer within the art school of Nanga (bunjinga). Thus the literati world beckoned Kien to study traditional Chinese culture and literati paintings.

Before Kien entered the world of bunjinga, he studied the traditions of the school of Kano under Watanabe Shuseki. His teacher focused on the woodcut art of Nagasaki-e. Therefore, Kien developed greatly under Watanabe Shuseki.

Nanga art would win the day after studying under Gion Nankai. Thus the rich artistic traditions of China and Japan blessed his art, creativity, and individualism. He also passed on his skills to individuals of high esteem – including Ike no Taiga.


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