kingin Gold and Silver


kingin 金銀 Gold and Silver in Japanese Art

. byoobu, tsuitate 屏風 / 衝立 folding screens, standing screens .


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The Yamatane Museum presents a brilliant show
“Gold and Silver:
All That Glitters in Japanese Art, From the Rimpa School to Kayama Matazo”
Alice Gordenker

Gold and silver have long been used in Japanese painting for their decorative value, on works ranging from intimate handscrolls to large-scale screens. But as the current exhibition at the Yamatane Museum of Art makes amply clear, in the last century or so tradition has been improved upon as modern and contemporary painters developed innovative and creative new ways to use these precious metals.

The three basic methods, believed to have been transmitted to Japan from China, are sprinkling gold or silver dust (sunago); applying gold or silver leaf (haku) and mixing finely ground gold or silver leaf with glue to make a kind of paint (dei).

Iwasa Matabei (1578-1650)

Taikan Yokoyama (1868-1958), for example, experimented with gold and silver as a means to add light. In “Mt. Kisen” (1919), he applied gold leaf to the back of Japanese paper so that a faint glimmer of the gold would show through the weave, imparting a soft and gentle light to the mountain scene on the front. In “Bamboo,” painted the same year, he applied gold leaf to the entire underside of silk and painted a scene of bamboo in ink on the front. What would have been a monochrome work in shades of gray, black and white is transformed into a luminous, highly atmospheric scene that might be a bamboo forest in early morning light or after a rain.

Gyoshu Hayami (1894-1935), too, sought new forms of expression through the use of gold and silver. In “Camellia Petals Scattering” (1929), a large two-part screen that was the first work from the Showa Era (1926-1989) to be designated an Important Cultural Property, he used gold powder to create a dazzling, intensely flattened backdrop for a camellia tree in full bloom. The technique he used, which is called makitsubushi, involves grinding gold leaf into an extremely fine powder. The process requires five times as much gold as covering the same space with gold leaf, but produces a smooth, even surface that reflects light in complex ways and allows for subtle shading in color.

Matazo Kayama (1927-2004) explored the potential of gold and silver as he sought to blend classical forms with contemporary sensibilities. In “Screen with Floral Fans” (1966), he incorporated traditional motifs, such as fans, waves and patchworks of torn paper, with bold color and very large designs.

... ancient Buddhist sutras written in gold and silver on paper dyed with indigo ...

Ryushi Kawabata (1885-1966)

- source : Japan Times


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- Highlights of the Exhibition

Fujiwara no Koreyuki, "Boshin-gire" Fragment of the Wakan Rōeishū Poetry Anthology [Important Art Object], Ink on Decorated Paper, Heian Period, 12th Century, Yamatane Museum of Art *
Iwasa Matabei, Court Ladies Enjoying Wayside Chrysanthemums [Important Cultural Property], Ink, Gold and Light Color on Paper, Early Edo Period, Early 17th Century, Yamatane Museum of Art *
Painting by Tawaraya Sōtatsu, Calligraphy by Hon'ami Kōetsu, Album of Paintings and Poems, Ink, Gold and Silver on Paper, Edo Period, 17th Century, Yamatane Museum of Art ***
Sakai Hōitsu, Autumn Plants and Quails [Important Art Object], Color on Gold-Leafed Paper, Edo Period, 19th Century, Yamatane Museum of Art
Suzuki Kiitsu, Silver Grass Folding Screen, Ink on Silver-Leafed Paper, Edo Period, 19th Century, Chiba City Museum of Art(on display 11/5-11/16)

Yokoyama Taikan, Mt. Kisen, Color on Paper, Taishō Period, 1919, Yamatane Museum of Art

Matsuoka Eikyū, Court Ladies in Spring Clothing, in the Spring Sunlight, Color on Silk, Taishō Period, 1917, Yamatane Museum of Art
Okumura Togyū, Cormorants, Color on Gold-Leafed Paper, Shōwa Period, 1966, Yamatane Museum of Art
Kawabata Ryūshi, Seeds of Grasses, Color on Gold-Leafed Paper, Shōwa Period, 1931, Ryushi Memorial Museum

Hayami Gyoshū, Camellia Petals Scattering [Important Cultural Property], Color on Gold Ground on Paper, Shōwa Period, 1929, Yamatane Museum of Art
Hayami Gyoshū, Spider's Trap beneath the Leaves / Moths Dancing around the Light: from "Two Themes on Insect Life", Color on Silk, Taishō Period, 1926, Yamatane Museum of Art

Kayama Matazō 加山又造, Light of the Full Moon, Color on Paper, Shōwa Period, 1973, Yamatane Museum of Art
Kayama Matazō, Folding Screens with Floral Fan Paintings, Color on Silk, Shōwa Period, 1966, Yamatane Museum of Art

Tabuchi Toshio, Embanked Village, Color on Paper, Shōwa Period, 1979, Yamatane Museum of Art

Yamamoto Kyūjin, Volcano at Midday, Color on Paper, Shōwa Period, 1959, Yamatane Museum of Art

Approximately 80 works will be displayed.


Yamatane Museum of Art 山種美術館 
was founded in 1966 by Taneji Yamazaki who has donated his numerous collection of Japanese art.
- source : www.yamatane-museum.jp


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