Japanese artist Soga Shōhaku was influenced by the Muromachi Period

Japanese artist Soga Shōhaku was influenced by the Muromachi Period

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The artist Soga Shōhaku (1730-1781) belongs to the Edo Period. Yet, for Shōhaku, the art world of the Muromachi Period (1336 to 1573 – period officially began in 1338) is what inspired him. Therefore, the cultural angle of the Muromachi Period also shines through his art.

It is known that Shōhaku was born into a wealthy family. However, all his immediate family members had passed away when he was relatively young. Thus art and culture were equal bedrocks for Shōhaku who was pained by many early sad memories.

Shōhaku was lucky because he could focus on the art period that appealed to him. For poorer artists, their options were more limited because they had to make a living. Yet, even artists from wealthier backgrounds didn’t overtly focus on the Muromachi Period. Therefore, this highlights the individuality of Shōhaku.

At first, the Kano School of Art appealed greatly to Shōhaku. However, the more he delved into the artistic culture of Japan and the influence of China, he became swayed by the brushstroke of the Muromachi Period. Also, his distinctive love of monochrome (Shōhaku also used color) was rare in the eighteenth century.

Overall, Shōhaku understood the fleeting nature of life concerning the deaths of his immediate family when relatively young. Yet, rather than focus on the new artistic conventions of the day, it was the old world that ticked. Therefore, various brush styles, monochrome, the rich cultural legacy of old Japan, and other factors can are felt deeply in his art.


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