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- Author Chuei Sekiguchi, pseudonym: Kyōso (born 1926)
- Date of production 20th century
- Dimensions height: 135 cm, with binding: 166 cm, width: 52 cm, with binding: 68 cm
- Author's designation artist’s red stamp in stamp writing
- ID no. MSITJM0359
- Availability in stock
- Acquired date 1995, donated by the Japanese Association for the Promotion of Calligraphy and Traditional Paintings from Tokyo
- Object copyright The Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology
- Digital images copyright all rights reserved, The Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology
- Digitalizacja RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums Plus project
From the dawn of history, the Japanese have observed nature carefully. The elements of nature, including various flowers with their symbolic meaning, became frequent motifs used in art and ornamentation. To this day, these natural phenomena are reflected in Japanese customs and traditions. An old custom hanami (in Japanese “watching flowers”) is still hugely popular when, in spring, whole families have picnics under blossoming cherry trees.more
The calligraphy depicts an ideograph 花 (Japanese: hana) created with golden paint on deep dark blue paper of a sapphire shade and suede texture. At the bottom of the artwork, to the left, there is the square red seal of the artist with an ideograph created in stamp writing – a form of signs that derive from ancient Chinese calligraphy.
According to custom, paintings and calligraphies of the Far East should be bound. The choice of binding depended on the degree of an artwork’s formality and its intended purpose. It might have been left in the original form (a sheet of paper), or binding of a particular style might have been applied to it. The “Flower” calligraphy was bound in the form of a vertical roll of maru hyōsō type: at the top and bottom edge, narrow strips of light sea green brocade, covered with a pattern of golden clouds were added (this part of the binding is called ichimonji). They create a stunning element emphasising the aesthetic qualities of the painting. The rest of the frame was made with a baize cloth of a deep yellow colour resembling powdered turmeric – a dye commonly used in ancient Japan. At the top and bottom, there are wooden rollers of varying diameters. The lower one is thicker in order to help to smooth the roll with its weight. The roller's ends are made of dark brown wood in the shape of a lengthened cylinder – kirijiku. At the top of the roll, a typical thin Japanese tape used to hang objects is attached.
The ideograph hana, meaning “flower”, consisting of seven lines (brush strokes), comprises two pictographs: the upper one depicts growing plants and the lower one – symbolising flowering, signifies a change in the plant. The following attempt at interpretation may be offered: a flower appears when a plant is in the process of transformation of its state and new possibilities are arising that may bring delightful results.
In the artwork, the artist considered both the visual appearance of a flower being the symbol of beauty in all cultures of the world, as well as the most striking moment of its growth when the flower starts blooming. The flower is also a harbinger of another transformation – it heralds the appearance of the fruit.
From the dawn of history, the Japanese have observed nature carefully. The elements of nature, including various flowers with their symbolic meaning, became frequent motifs used in art and ornamentation. To this day, these natural phenomena are reflected in Japanese customs and traditions. An old custom hanami (in Japanese “watching flowers”) is still hugely popular when, in spring, whole families have picnics under blossoming cherry trees.
The ideograph has been created in a modern avant-garde style, with the use of the design concept of substantial enlargement of the sign. Due to precise control of the brush guidance and pressure, the lines of the ideograph are not heavy or thick, but light and delicate, and they make us think of trees covered with blossom.
The colours of the painting are a puzzle. The audience is typically accustomed to calligraphy drawn with black ink on a white or cream-coloured background, where a red seal of the artist is the only element softening this sophisticated austerity of colour. Although Kyōso's Flower is also an artwork of refined colours, it stands out from the majority of calligraphic works. It is easy to discern the source of the artist's inspiration when we think of the beginnings of Japanese art: a golden colour on a deep dark blue background was used in the Heian period (794–1185) to create images and extremely precious texts of Buddhist sutras modelled on Chinese works of the Tang dynasty period (618–907). Sutras were copied only by the most skilled of calligraphy artists. During this period, deep dark blue backgrounds were created with the use of the lapis lazuli mineral. Later, when such backgrounds became common in use, paper was dyed with indigo – a cheaper and more available plant dye. Kyōso, the contemporary artist, has used skilfully this elegant and refined combination of gold and deep dark blue, building on tradition.
Elaborated by Małgorzata Martini (The Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved