Uenaka Chokusai (1885-1977)
Pair of six-fold screens.
Late Meiji period, circa 1910.
Ink and silver leaf on paper.
Each: 172 cm x 378 cm (68” x 149”)
Price: USD 24000 the pair
This monochrome ink work depicts Japanese pine trees on a solid silver-leaf ground. The artist Chokusai has set his singular subject matter on a strikingly open background, resulting in a sense of immediate naturalism with a strong decorative and reflective atmosphere. The trunks and branches are rendered in the tsuketate technique, which at first glance appears roughly painted, but at the same time expresses three-dimensionality through controlled variations of intensity in the ink. The goal of ink wash painting is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its spirit. It is often regarded as a form of expressionistic art. These screens evoke the refined realm of wabi-sabi. Wabi connotes rustic simplicity and understated elegance. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age and is evidenced in the patina of an item. In Japan the pine is held in deep reverence, much more so than other trees. Along with the longevity with which it is often associated the pine tree also represents lofty Confucian values such as ‘uprightness’, ‘nobility’, and ‘steadfastness’.
Uenaka Chokusai (1885-1977). He apprenticed under Fukada Chokujo, and later Hashimoto Gaho. At the age of 23 his paintings were accepted into the national Bunten/Nitten exhibition. Shortly thereafter he became a disciple of the Nichiren Buddhist Orator Tanaka Chigaku. He would then fall under the tutelage of Yamamoto Shunkyo, combining his varied skills into a genre of historical scenery. Along with Hayashi Bunto, Ikeda Keisen and Ueda Manshu he would help to establish the Nihon Jiyu Gakkai, a non-juried exhibition of Free Painters. Work by him are held in the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo and the National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, among others.