nihonga 日本画
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. Japanese style painting. The term came into use during the Meiji period to distinguish indigenous painting from Western-style oil painting *youga 洋画. The Meiji period was a transitional phase for painters trained in traditional schools. Since Japan was changing, many felt compelled to develop a new mode of Japanese painting. They painted on paper and silk with traditional water-soluble and mineral pigments used by earlier generations of Japanese artists, but nihonga was not simply a continuation of older painting traditions. In comparison with *yamato-e やまと絵 the range of subject matter was broadened. Moreover, stylistic and technical elements from several traditional schools, such as *Kanouha 狩野派, *Rinpa 琳派, and *Maruyama-Shijouha 円山四条派, were blended together, and in some cases nihonga artists also adopted realistic Western painting techniques such as shading. Because of this tendency to synthesize, the distinctions that had previously existed among schools in the Edo period were minimized. Of all the traditional schools, that of Maruyama Oukyo 円山応挙 (1733-95) had the most influence on nihonga, perhaps because of its continued popularity in Kyoto where many artists were concentrated. The impetus for reinvigorating traditional painting by developing a more modern Japanese style came largely from art critic Okakura Kakuzou 岡倉覚三 (also known as Okakura Tenshin 岡倉天心; 1862-1913), who together with Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908), tried to combat the infatuation with Western culture by emphasizing to the Japanese the importance and beauty of native arts. These two men played important roles in developing the curricula at major art schools, and actively encouraged and patronized artists. Among the nihonga pioneers were Hishida Shunsou 菱田春草 (1874-1911), Yokoyama Taikan 横山大観 (1868-1958), and Shimomura Kanzan 下村観山 (1873-1930). Nihonga artists typically utilize brilliant mineral pigments and strive for refined surface effects, resulting in paintings with an ethereal, formal beauty that appeals greatly to contemporary Japanese taste.


(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. No reproduction or republication without written permission.