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Aiseki, Hermitage by the Shaxi River, a hanging scroll painting


Height: 1302.000 mm
Width: 570.000 mm

Asia JA JP ADD593 (1979.7-23.03)

    Aiseki, Hermitage by the Shaxi River, a hanging scroll painting

    Edo period, late 18th century AD

    A retreat from the world

    Aiseki (worked late eighteenth century) probably studied painting with Noro Kaiseki (1747-1828), who was from the same province of Kii in central Japan, and took the second character of his teacher's name. Kaiseki in turn had been taught by the famous bunjin (literati) painter, Ike no Taiga (1723-76); this work clearly shows the overwhelming influence that Taiga had on Aiseki's art.

    The painting uses the landscape technique where in addition to the basic black ink, the artist uses red ochre (for shading) and indigo (for the foliage of trees). The composition of the painting, the 'axe-cut' strokes used on the mountains, and the treatment of the trees all follow closely the style of Ike no Taiga. The bunjin artists were concerned with evoking an ideal of retreat from the toils of the day-to-day world, of a place (perhaps only in the mind) where the scholarly individual could contemplate in quiet solitude.

    The Shaxi is a river in China which rises in Zhejiang province and flows to the south-east, eventually joining with the Daxi river. It runs through a tea-producing region, and the name also conjures up images of the tea enjoyed by such hermits.

    The inscription reads 'Shakei sei-in, Aiseki' ('Unsullied Retreat by the Shaxi, by Aiseki'), and the seal reads 'Aiseki'.

    I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)


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