On the Margins of Japanese Ink Painting History

White-robed Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva Gazing at the Moon (detail), Kenchōji, Kamakura, 15th century; hanging scroll from a set of 32; ink on silk.

Aaron Rio
Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 6:00-7:00 pm

612 Schermerhorn Hall

As generations of early-modern Japanese artists and connoisseurs studied, documented, and authenticated old ink paintings, they pieced together a history of medieval Japanese ink painting—a web of traditional attributions, constructed biographies, and imagined lineages that we largely inherit. Recent studies amply demonstrate the need to re-evaluate this narrative and its broad impact on our understanding of Japanese ink painting. This is never more so than in the case of ink paintings created by artists working outside the capital and its leading painting circles. For these works, often by obscure or anonymous painters whose careers and artistic personalities may contradict established notions, reliance on the received history precludes clearheaded viewing and analysis. This talk will introduce a group of ink paintings created in the city of Kamakura during the fifteenth century, dissect their shifting historical reception, and offer a new interpretation.