The Kura - Japanese Art Treasures
Meiji Japanese Oni Devil Screen Suzuki Shonen

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All Items: Archives:Regional Art:Asian:Japanese: Pre 1900: item # 1138390

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Meiji Japanese Oni Devil Screen Suzuki Shonen
A very different image by Suzuki Shonen showing this artists lighter side and the mastery of brush technique he commanded. The goblin walking by dressed in priests robes stops in his tracks, sheepishly glancing at the artist as if caught in the act, while the startled artist looks in disbelief at the creature of his imagination, images of the demons compatriots in the Otsu-e pantheon drying on the rack above him. A great pair of paintings, ink and pigment on silk mounted on applied gold panels. Each panel measures 63-1/2 x 30-1/2 inches (161.5 x 78 cm) and retains the original backing paper. The outline of the figure, is performed in dark ink with bold strokes, the devils robes washes of pale ink, color filling the voids created. This is a masterpiece, likely dating from the last decade of the 19th century.
Suzuki Shonen (1849-1918) studied under his father Suzuki Hyakunen and served as a professor at the Kyoto Municipal School of Painting. Born in Kyoto, he lived throughthe tumultuous early years of change in the Meiji era, when Japan was opened to outside influence for the first time in 3 centuries. Reflecting the times, he established his own unique style of painting which blended aspects of Nanga and the Shijo School, with influences from Otsu-e and Western Perspective. Much lauded in his lifetime, he was awarded a silver medal at the Paris World Exhibtion in 1900. He is well known as the teacher of Uemura Shoen, one of the most important artists of the era. Works by this artist are held in the collection of the Victoria Albert Museum, British Museum, Ashmolean, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museu of Art, Seattle Art Museum among many many other important private and public collections.
Otsu-e was a folk painting tradition from the town on the outskirts of Kyoto; the first or last stop coming to or leaving the capitol on the old Tokaido road. A pantheon of almost 200 characters, one of the most popular was the goblin, which came into vogue in the 18th century. Although the western goblin is a symbol of evil in religious iconography, in the Otsu-e tradition the symbol was used to satirize human folly and to remind people of the consequences of their actions. Other goblin images present remonstrations against arrogance, hypocrisy and carelessness. Utagawa Kuniyoshi created a woodblock print depicting the Otsu-e figures coming to life.

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