Suzuki Kiitsu and Edo Period art: Continuing to inspire

Suzuki Kiitsu and Edo Period art: Continuing to inspire

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858) produced countless pieces of stunning art. He also highlights the stunning continuity of rinpa (rimpa) art that blessed the Japanese art scene.

Kiitsu was born during the Edo Period. Yet, he understood the growing encroachment of Western ideas and artistic thought patterns that were increasingly entering the nation before the Meiji Restoration (1868).

In the delightful art piece above, the distinguished MET Museum says, “A crane soars across the sun, and the evergreen pine tree complements the association of this avian species with longevity. The simple, bold image may be viewed as an abbreviated representation of Mount Hōrai, mythical island of the immortals, intended for display at the onset of the lunar calendar. Suzuki Kiitsu, pupil of Sakai Hōitsu (1761–1828), ensured the continuity of Rinpa art into modern times, enlivening a genre that might otherwise have become overly formulaic and static.”

Rinpa art was founded by individuals born before the Edo (Tokugawa) period began (1603-1868). This concerns the esteemed Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637) and Tawaraya Sōtatsu (1570-1640). Both individuals were born in the cultural city of Kyoto. Therefore, the longevity of this art form and its rich cultural legacy in Japan is highly valued.

In the above art piece – the contemporary Japanese artist, Sawako Utsumi, highlights the continuing influence of Kiitsu in modern Japan.

Utsumi hails from northern Japan. Her delightful artwork is inspired by past European and Japanese artists, despite her own personal landscapes. In the above art by Utsumi, she focuses on a singular angle of Kiitsu’s original art piece – this concerns the backdrop of the strongly flowing river. Therefore, the passages of time come together and highlight the rich esteem of Kiitsu among contemporary artists in Japan.

The above art piece is the original by Kiitsu that influenced Utsumi. Hence, the binding theme is the river angle. However, the contrasting color scheme – and Utsumi’s spiritual and bleak angle – provide a lovely fusion of ideas.

In a past article, I comment, “Of utmost acclaim is Kiitsu’s original screens depicting nature through the prism of the enchantment of summer and spring. Indeed, when viewing the Morning Glories and Mountain Stream in Summer and Autumn, one can feel the power of nature and rinpa at its sublime best.” – Sawako Utsumi and where you can buy her art, postcards, bags, and other products. Also, individuals can contact her for individual requests. 


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