Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Colorful Realm" on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art

Seeing news of this exhibit on PBS's Newshour last night left me speechless.

Silk painting by Ito Jakuchu, http://www.nga.gov/
Celebrating the centennial of Japan's gift of cherry trees to the nation's capital, this exhibition features one of Japan's most renowned cultural treasures, the 30-scroll set of bird-and-flower paintings by Itō Jakuchū. Titled Colorful Realm of Living Beings (J. Dōshoku sai-e; c. 1757–1766), these extraordinary scrolls are being lent to the National Gallery of Art by the Imperial Household. Their exhibition here—for one month only—provides a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: not only is it the first time all 30 paintings will be on view in the United States, but it is also the first time any of the works will be seen here after their six-year-long restoration.
The collection of paintings — animals, flowers, insects, together with a Shakyamuni tryptich — represents the Buddha teaching all creation. It reminded me of Elizbeth Coastworth book, The Cat Who Went to Heaven, wherein a painter is commissioned to create an image of the Buddha for a temple and in order to do so he paints a series of animals that were Buddha's previous incarnations. Visit the Newshour's website to see more of Jakuchu's remarkable paintings.

Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Itō Jakuchū will be on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., from March 30 through April 29, 2012.
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