Friday, 1 July 2016

Ike no Taiga's ink painting of bamboo


Ike no Taiga (池大雅; aka. Ikeno Taiga) (1723–1776)
“Bamboo” [descriptive title only], ink on paper, signed with the artist’s name and laid down on a support sheet.
(Note, one of the key traditions of Oriental painting is to copy old masters. Although I reasonably confident that this painting is genuinely by Ike no Taiga, please understand that this I may be misguided and it is by a very early copyist. The strength and subtlety of the brushwork supports this view as does the clear age of the work.)
Size: (sheet) 32 x 42.4 cm
Condition: the sheet is in poor condition with fading at the edges and with abrasions and holes. Nevertheless the clear patina of age when viewed with the economy and light touch of the brushwork makes this seemingly simple painting beautiful.

I am selling this delicate painting of bamboo by a well-known artist from the 18th century for a total cost of AU$389 (currently US$291.73/EUR262.07/GBP219.75 the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. (Please note that the low asking price for this painting, which would normally sell for at least US$3000, is simply because I purchased the painting at an auction when there with few bidders and I am not seeking a substantial profit.)
If you are interested in purchasing this simple but lovely early Japanese artist, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This seemingly lightly executed painting of bamboo is ideal for explaining the attributes of quality in Oriental brushwork.

Let me begin with the treatment of the nodes on each stem (i.e. the bumps). The brushstrokes describing these nodes show thickening of the stem as it approaches the node and the treatment of the sheath scar (i.e. where the leaf has fallen off) there is a “U” shape configuration of strokes designed to suggest that the viewpoint is either looking down, looking up, or looking at the sheath at eye level. Interestingly the latter configuration is more of a “Z” than a “U” shape—an artistic compromise for showing uncertainty of viewpoint.

How a brush is loaded with ink (i.e. the tip of the brush is dipped in black while the hair closer to the ferrule is watered down to a lighter grey) is also an important element in giving “life” and “form” to each stroke. Note for instance how the left edge of each stroke tends to be crisp and black while the edges on the right side are softer and lighter in tone, suggesting that Ike no Taiga was a right-handed artist.

While there are so many indicators of quality, the final attribute that I wish to highlight is the alignment of the leaves to suggest where the fine stems of the bamboo would be, even though they are not necessarily shown.





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