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Hakuin enso and Daruma

18 March, 2008 (05:00) | japan, modern, paintings | By: xensen

hakuin enso

Here’s a delightful enso by the Rinzai Zen master Hakuin Ekaku Zenji (1686-1769). Unassuming and unaffected yet not at all reticent, it displays an exceptionally even and steady hand, with only a hint of the beginning and end at bottom left.

As a bonus, here’s a Hakuin Daruma, which reveals some of the same qualities.

hakuin daruma

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Nakahara Nantenbo Daruma

28 February, 2008 (05:00) | 20th c, japan, paintings | By: xensen

nakahara nantenbo daruma zen painting, 1912

Seven Junipers continues Daruma week with this bold image by Nakahara Nantenbo (1839-1925), which is more than five feet tall. The work was painted ni 1912. The thin lines outlining Bodhidharma’s face (which lacks a nose) contrast with the broad arc that suggests his robe in the most minimalist manner possible, as well as with the rough, energetic calligraphy. The arc of the robe is drawn with such force that it has splashed ink over Bodhidharma’s left ear, from which an earring hangs.

Nantenbo, the artist’s priest name — he was abbot of the Zen monastery of Myoshinji in Kyoto — derives from bo (staff) and nanten (a kind of tree), alluding to the staff with which he struck practitioners whose attention faltered.

The epigraph reads “A flower opens five petals and bears fruit — all in its nature.”

The work is in the collection of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.

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Soga Shokaku Daruma

27 February, 2008 (05:00) | japan, modern, paintings | By: xensen

daruma image by soga shohaku

Keeping on our Daruma theme, here is a standing version by the Kyoto painter Soga Shohaku (1730-1781). While Shohaku sometimes produced paintings of the greatest care and precision, he also worked in a freer style, as in this example.  Bodhidharma’s body is quickly outlined in broad strokes. His face, which turns back to the viewer, brings the painting alive through a few masterfully rendered strokes that produce a typically enigmatic expression.

Shohaku’s sprawling inscription informs us that the work was painted in a drunken state, and no doubt this contributed to the painting’ spontaneous quality. The attitude is consistent with a Zen value of freedom from restraint, which is seen in many eighteenth-century works from Kyoto. The painting is about four feet tall, and it was probably painted with a large straw brush.

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Yoshitoshi Daruma

27 February, 2008 (05:00) | japan, modern, paintings | By: xensen

daruma by yoshitoshi

Moving on with our Daruma week, here is an image by the great 19th-century printmaker Yoshitoshi. Yoshitoshi produced this woodblock print in 1887.

Yoshitoshi is famous for his images of ghosts, gruesome images, and battle scenes. As a result, like his near contemporaries Baudelaire and Poe, he has been dismissed as an artist of the macabre. In fact, he was a great artist who witnessed and chronicled the painful transition of Japan from a feudal to a modern society.

His Daruma is a somewhat rough-looking, battle-scarred fellow; there is a degree of weariness in his meditative post under the full moon.

Daruma Sushi

26 February, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, japan | By: xensen

daruma sushi

While we’re on the subject of Daruma, here’s a clever use of a Daruma image as a logo or brand mark. Ordinarily you would might not think kindly of using Daruma in a commercial context, but how can you not love this charming fellow?

The photo is from Orion’s photostream. This Daruma Sushi seems to be in Helsinki, but a web search suggests that it is an international chain, or at least that there are sushi places with this same name in New York, Rome, and many other places. Hope the food is good!

Seikou Hirata Daruma

25 February, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, japan, paintings | By: xensen

daruma image by seikou hirata

This painting by Seikou Daruma, chief priest of Temryuji, is easily recognizable as a Daruma image. Japanese Daruma images typically use a minimum of brushwork and exaggerate what are thought of as Indian facial features. The quality of the figure’s expression is key. This one is a little unusual because most often Bodhidarma is depicted in profile or three-quarter view.

Photo by hira3, some rights reserved.

Eyes and dolls

5 June, 2008 (05:05) | 20th c, japan, paintings | By: xensen