Kashima :
Thank you for coming in the heat today. Today, I would like if you could, with your usual way, cut into the Japanese Art from various angles. I am looking forward to our discussion. Let's start with this piece I recently acquired, "sououzu" of Korin; which is referred to in the Picture book of Korin "korinzufu" Would you kindly take a look?
Takeuchi :
This is such a Rimpa school masterpiece. The mounds of earth is painted with light ink, and the legs of the twin wild ducks coming out from the grass standing straight is also expertly expressed. Hmm, this is quite a piece. Perhaps there should have been stronger use of the technique "tarashikomi" ; a technique in which colors are dripped or brushed into wet ink), though still the way the head of the duck's tail in front curls around creates diversity which is interesting. The rich mounting design ; Bishamon Kikko, on the center part of the hanging on which the painting is displayed also matches the piece nicely. Talking about mountings, I can't help but think that the recent mounting shop's tastes are too sophisticated. You know about the exhibition "taiketsu" that is now open at Tokyo National Museum, don't you? The piece "sanshokuroutaizu" of Buson is displayed there, but the mounting is too sophisticated it actually does not match the piece. That kind of piece should look good hanging in a dimly lit alcove in an upper class tradesman's house in Kyoto where it would be commented casually by the gents like ; "Ahh, a Buson piece?", "Yes it is.". I feel it is not right to think that changing the mounting to a richer one improves the piece. It seems that contemporary people do not imagine what kind of era or environment the pieces were hanged in. The famous Sesshu piece and a national treasure "shutousansuizu" is the same. It looks as if a replica of it has been mounted.That piece comes from Manshuinmonzeki in Kyoto and originally the mounting was fancy. However if you do not understand that even if the piece is a Suiboku painting, the mounting has been richly and costly made due to the walls of Manshuin being paper pasted and because of the nobles tastes, and if you only concentrate in matching the piece to modern alcoves or to the buildings wall color, the hanging will become confusing. You should not change hangings. Refraining from remodeling the hangings leads to understanding and respecting of hereditary, and could become proof of transmission from generation to generation.
Kashima :
I fully understand what you are saying. By the way, what are the basics in art appreciation for you?
Takeuchi :
First I will say "first impression", and then I must say to contemplate the era and environment of when the art you appreciate is made in. In paintings, that would be considering the formation of the piece by speculating the cultural background of the painter; where one lived, what kind of human relations one had, ones social status and did that one have money or not and other various things.
Kashima :
I see, entering from that point of view, and then combine with your own sense and compatibility?
Takeuchi :
Yes that’s it. From there, individual preferences appear and complicate things.Regarding the authenticity too, it is not possible to determine it by only sign and seal or signatures. Lines and colors differ to the situation of the painter at that moment. So, it is clear that academic interpretation is not enough.
Kashima :
Does it mean that at times, you can distinguish black and white, and at times you might not?
Takeuchi :
A perfect piece comes only rarely, and one cannot deeply enjoy or gain better insight of the center of the pieces with only having an academic appreciation attitude. It is important for the observer to study various issues and gain the ability to decipher the piece itself. And also to observe many things and cultivate ones sensibility. Not doing any thing won't polish any senses. The word it's good which tea masters around from Kyoto say in a way like a sigh coming from the bottom of the stomach; when one becomes able to say it that way is when that one becomes genuine. By the way, this piece of Takahashi Sohei, it's good . It is painted very well.
Kashima :
There are not much great pieces of Sohei, though I have great pride in this piece.
Takeuchi :
I am not overly acquainted with Southern Chinese painting styles though even I can tell the value of this Piece of Sohei. The intensity is powerful, it is "alive". The worm eaten lotus leaf is also expressed expertly. It should be that the composition being made in a "dog-leg" gives out depth and motion. And that sharp Hern's eye, in any case this is a very fine piece.
Kashima :
Excuse me for changing the subject, but will you tell us about a piece from your collection that is memorable to you, or that appeals to you?
Takeuchi :
What I am most engrossed in at this moment is flower arrangement. For that reason I am moved by hanging scrolls or receptacles that are related to that area. Admiring Nishikawa Isotei, I have many of his calligraphic works andpaintings, which I will like to talk about on another opportunity, though speaking of the most memorable piece I would have to say it is a water jar from Takano. It is also called a "Joubin" ; a cleansing jar, and one day I found and took fancy to one at an antique store in Kyoto. When I told the shop owner that I wished to buy it he said “You should not buy this one. I will inform you once when one with the copper color in a better condition arrives. And waiting over ten years, I finally acquired one. Since I was waiting so long, I was so happy. It is a common copperware used from the Muromachi era around Mt.Kouyasan though nevertheless I desired it.
Kashima :
Do you still treasure it?
Takeuchi :
Of course I still treasure it. I strongly believe that, if you have something you want and wish for it with your whole heart, somewhere somehow what you desire inevitably comes to you. It is such a wonder. There is one more piece which is a lidded food container for bonito. It is a large container painted and in a bonito shape which you take of the lid and display the food. Once at Edo-Tokyo Museum during an exhibition of Siebold, I saw one not same as mine though something of the same kind. Apparently Siebold had brought one back with him. I was so frustrated. Me being from Kouchi prefecture, I felt "why don't I have it and Siebold does!" I decided to definitely buy one when one turns up next and it actually appreard. I was extremely pleased when I found it around ten years ago at an antique market. As soon as acquiring it, I invited important teachers to my parental home in Kouchi and held a banquet to eat and enjoy Tosa dishes. Using this container serving Sawachi dishes,,,
Kashima :
Being a perfectionist, I can imagine you planning to the details. By the way, is that an antique?
Takeuchi :
The description written on the case showed the year of Houreki era. The creator was also known and also it was written that it had been used at the Hotta house of Shimousa domain which currently is around Chiba prefecture. Bonitos can be caught around there you know?
Kashima :
That is an interesting story. I have no doubt you have many more collections though please tell us about this hanging scroll you will show us today.
Takeuchi :
Oh this? This is a hanging scroll if calligraphy "CHANITEARECHANITENAKARE" of Yanagi Muneyoshi which I acquired from you. Liking the expression, I even had Isao Kumamura write the note of authenticity on the box and am enjoying the piece. I just hanged it in the yoritsuki (a waiting shelter of the outer garden) at the last tea ceremony.
Kashima :
I am so glad, thank you. Mentioning Yanagi Muneyoshi, I wish to ask how you whom I think has been in world where conventional status is of importance considering the path you have taken, think about folk handicrafts that draws the line from such status.
Takeuchi :
I don't think negative of Yanagi Muneyoshi's folk handicraft pieces. Even the Ido tea bowl that Rikyu acknowledged emerged from the life of people. Also I think that at first, when one discovers beauty in a subject, the background of the piece is of no importance. What is important is feeling the beauty or feeling intrigued.On the other hand, an art object that has already been rated, the history of the piece being handing down ; the people or environment cherishing it, increases the pieces value which will keep building up as time passes.To prefer pieces of high status, or to prefer beauty routed in common life, that is completely free to each person. But to state an anxiety, these days the trend of demolishing status is too strong. Still it is important to respect, fear and cherish things that have been in high status from the past. I think to maintain this mind is very important.
Kashima :
Thank you so much for sharing your valuable episodes and information.

*The dialogue was quoted from the third Bisai catalogue (Oct 2008).

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Kashima Morio

  • Kasima Arts Co., Ltd.
  • Kashima Morio
  • Founded Kasima Arts Co., Ltd for an art dealing company in 1988. Also established a secondhand book store. As a mail-order business, he has published a catalogue “Ochiho”.

Takeuchi Norio

  • Japanese Cultural Hisotry researcher
  • Takeuchi Norio
  • Born in Kouchi prefecture, 1947. Study and completed master's degree of Buddhist Culture in Otani University Graduate school. After working and Shibunkaku, enter the service of curator at Incorporated foundation Hatakeyama Museum of Fine Arts. After retirement, write thesises on Japanese Cultrual History centering around the history of tea ceremony / flower arrangement . Also promotes of seasonal flowers arranged for a tea ceremony by holding short lectures targeting tea ceremony enthusiasts. Various lectures and books have been published.

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