Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sanso Collection - Painting by Urakami Gyokudo

I have been blessed to work on mounting several prints into scrolls for the Sanso Collection (山荘コレクション) owned by the late Peter Drucker. As I do not own any rights, I can not post the pictures themselves, but will share my own personal feelings as I get to work on framing these paintings and my connection to what these artists say to me. The first print I worked on, is by Urakami Gyokudo (浦上玉堂). Urakami Gyokudo was a Japanese painter, musician, poet and calligrapher who lived from 1745 to 1820. While alive, he was a famed player of the zither, and posthumously as a painter. The specific painting I have worked on is titled, "Quietly Observing Summer Mountains". It is a very large print almost 21 inches wide by 50 inches tall. In it there is a landscape painting with a man on a bridge. When I first looked at the painting, I assumed it was summer because of the dress of the man, and the prominent willow tree painted, which is often a symbol of summer. There is the usual stream running through the low valley and three peaks. What really caught my eye in this painting was a dabbed ink at the very top of the highest peak. I do not know if it is really anything, but to me is very reminiscent of the shape of the Buddha. Now, I do not know much about the teachings of Buddhism, but from my Judeo-Christian background, I felt that Urakami is not just communicating the man observing his surroundings, but realizes that from his vantage point, he must find a way to enlightenment (in other words, climb to reach the Buddha) and seek a path along the rokudo. I may be reading more into this than there really is, but that has been my impression everytime I get to see the print.

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