Japanese painting, and really quite a bit of Japanese art in general has been at the top of my mind lately. I’ve always found the sumi ink paintings of both Japan and China to be among my favorite works to view and visit. So I’ve been delving into the history of these paintings bit more.
One such artist that I did not previously know is Aoki Mokubei (青木木米). He was a nanga painter from the Edo era, but also a master artist across several disciplines. Something has struck me about his work. It could be the relatively simplistic or heavy lines (compared to other painters of his era I have seen) and I think the strong sense I have that elements within his paintings – such as a mountain-top or foreground boulder – are clearly delineated forms somewhat bounded off from the rest of the painting. But these forms are also very much interacting components of the whole, that feel at times placed together as though part of a jigsaw puzzle.
Below is a painting I believe is titled ‘Cloud in the Low Mountains’ that I think shows a lot of what I love about Mokubei’s work.
I could also say quite a bit about the use of color and the choices of color, such as in this image ‘Morning view of the Uji River.’ Especially those wildly dancing light-brown trees in the foreground.
This second image was taken from the Tokyo National Museum’s website, which I would certainly encourage you to visit to see more Nanga-style painting.