The exhibit of paintings by Sakai Hōitsu, Korin, the earlier master who inspired him, and his student, Suzuki Kiitsu, ends tomorrow at the Japan Society. I caught it the other day, and saw a related exhibit, also on the Rimpa style, at the Met earlier this summer.
It’s not easy to isolate the elements of the Rimpa style, other than to say it is deeply involved with nature, uses highly stylized and abstract patterns, and is very sumptuous and beautiful, employing expensive materials such as gold and silver leaf. In fact, one blurb I read said that the style has become practically synonymous with Japanese art, so deeply embedded is its aesthetic approach in the nation’s culture. On the other hand, as the exhibit points out, Hōitsu began his career working in the style of Ukiyo, a popular form that focused on the ‘Floating World’ of Japanese urban pleasure districts, well known to us through wood block prints.
The images below are of a dragon rising before the faint, abstract, silhouette of Mount Fuji, by the student, Suzuki Kiitsu. The images hardly do justice (click to enlarge them) to the wet on wet technique that creates the swirling dark cloud emanating from the skin of the dragon.