Exhibition | Rosetsu: Ferocious Brush

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 3, 2018

Nagasawa Rosetsu, Tiger, 1786 door panels from the Zen Temple Muryōji, Kushimoto.

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From the press release for the exhibition:

Rosetsu: Ferocious Brush / Rosetsu: Fantastische Bilderwelten aus Japan
Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 6 September — 4 November 2018

Curated by Khanh Trinh and Matthew McKelway

For eight weeks, Japan’s most famous tiger will reside exclusively at Museum Rietberg in Zurich. The story goes that the Japanese artist Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754–1799) painted this monumental tiger together with its counterpart, a dragon, on the sliding door panels of the Zen temple Muryōji in a single night in the year 1786. Now the entire temple’s painted walls and a number of other, awe-inspiring masterpieces by Rosetsu are being shown for the first time outside of Japan. Rosetsu’s highly dynamic paintings created with vigorous brushstrokes and sometimes with his fingers, but also his delicate compositions painted with fine brushes and rich colour are replete with energy, wit, and modern appeal.

Renowned as one of the most eccentric and imaginative artists in early modern Japan, Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754–1799) produced visually exciting, classification-defying works during his brief career. The exhibition Rosetsu: Ferocious Brush unravels the many mysteries of this enigmatic career. An exclusive and expert selection of works by Rosetsu chosen in consultation with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan (Bunkachō) reveals his painting subjects, his relationship to Zen Buddhism, his contacts with patrons outside Kyoto, and his choice of extraordinarily bold images.

The exhibition at the Rietberg Museum will survey Rosetsu’s art through a selection of sixty of his most important paintings, beginning with the earliest works in the realist style of his teacher Maruyama Ōkyo (1733–1795) and ending with the haunting and occasionally bizarre final masterpieces of his career. Screen paintings, scrolls, and albums depicting Zen eccentrics, children at play, ethereal beauties, breathtaking landscapes, and vivacious animals and birds will take viewers on a journey through Rosetsu’s own travels and into his fantastic imagination. These works, some of them compellingly realistic and others surprisingly abstract, take us into an early modern Japan we did not know and which feels very contemporary.

The highlight of the exhibition will be a magnificent ensemble of 48 screens and hanging scrolls, displayed in a recreated original floorplan of the Zen temple Muryōji. This Zen temple in the southern part of Japan’s main island holds the largest and most important collection of Rosetsu’s paintings, created in 1786. Various stories recount the creation of this breathtaking ensemble. The installation of these works would present an unprecedented opportunity to view and examine the paintings in a single venue outside their home in Kushimoto, and indeed the first such installation of architecturally specific paintings in an exhibition outside Japan.

Approximately one-third of the works to be exhibited are registered as Important Cultural Properties or Important Art Objects. Complementing these masterpieces from Japan, paintings from museums, temples, and private collections in Japan, Europe, and the United States trace the phases of Rosetsu’s life as he pursued his livelihood in Kyoto and the surrounding provinces. The exhibition closes with a dramatic display of abstract landscapes, ghosts, and perhaps his most astonishing work of all, a depiction of 500 Disciples of the Buddha on a surface of only one square inch.

Rosetsu, who hailed from a low-ranking samurai family, gained his reputation among art circles in the imperial capital Kyoto and its neighbouring regions with his untamed personality and his unusual talent. The exhibits run the gamut of formats and subjects, from exquisitely executed scrolls depicting birds and flowers in brilliant polychrome pigments to large-scale sliding doors and folding screens with fantastic landscapes, bizarre figures, and adorable animals. With his unconventional compositions and powerful brushwork Rosetsu always offers a fresh take on traditional subject matter. His paintings never fail to surprise, entertain, and charm.

The show at the Museum Rietberg is the first comprehensive presentation ever to take place outside of Japan. The exhibition is jointly curated by Dr Khanh Trinh, Curator of Japanese art, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, and Professor Matthew McKelway, Takeo and Itsuko Atsumi Professor of Japanese art history; director of the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Japanese Art, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Khanh Trinh and Matthew McKelway, Rosetsu: Ferocious Brush (London: Prestel, 2018), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-3791357263, $60 / £45. Also available in German.

Symposium | Rosetsu in Context

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on October 3, 2018

From H-ArtHist:

Rosetsu in Context
Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 7 October 2018

Nagasawa Rosetsu, Scholars Crossing a Bridge, 1788–89, ink and color on paper, hanging scroll, 47 × 21 inches (San Diego Museum of Art).

Eighteenth-century Japan witnessed an unprecedented diversity in artistic expression, nourished by the flourishing of a sophisticated urban culture and the increased affluence of the population in provincial areas. This symposium presents an array of fresh perspectives on issues of art production and consumption as well as leading figures of the art scene that constitute the environment in which Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754–1799) lived and worked.

Organised with the support of the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Japanese Art, Columbia University, in conjunction with the special exhibition Rosetsu: Ferocious Brush, on view at the Museum Rietberg Zurich, 6 September — 4 November 2018. While participation in the symposium is free of charge, a registration is required.


9.30  Doors open

10.00  Welcome by Albert Lutz (Director, Museum Rietberg)

10.10  Introduction by Khanh Trinh (Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, Museum Rietberg)

10.30  Noguchi Takeshi (Chief Curator, Nezu Museum), The Tiger and Departure from Realistic Representation: Nagasawa Rosetsu in Comparison to his Master Maruyama Ōkyo

11.10  Break

11.30  Alexander Hofmann (Curator for Japanese Art, Asian Art Museum, State Museums Berlin), The Genius and the Bores – Or: Whatever Happened to Rosetsu’s Contemporary Academic Painters?

12.10  Lunch and exhibition viewing

14.00  Yukio Lippit (Professor, Harvard University), From Kisō to Kijin: Reconsidering Eccentricity through Ike no Taiga’s Two Chinese Poets

14.40  Kadowaki Mutsumi (Visiting Professor, Osaka University), Itō Jakuchū and Zen

15.20  Break

15.40  Matthew McKelway (Professor, Columbia University), Nagasawa Rosetsu and Zen

16.30  Questions and panel discussion

Symposium | Rethinking the Life and Work of Rosetsu

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on October 3, 2018

From H-ArtHist:

Rethinking the Life and Work of Nagasawa Rosetsu
University of Zurich, 20–21 October 2018

The Japanese painter Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754–1799) has increasingly been a source of interest during the last years from popular and academic audiences with numerous exhibitions in Japan and in the West. Rosetsu has long been a name in Western studies of Japanese art, starting with a groundbreaking exhibition at the Denver Art Museum in 1973 and the publication by Robert Moes from the same year. Presently he is represented at an outstanding exhibition at the Museum Rietberg, Zurich, that feature key works of the artists, seldom seen outside of Japan.

Rosetsu has been the center of controversy over a long time, from the different versions of his contested biography to the questions of how to interpret the artist and his work. For decades he has been relegated to a list of eccentric artists, which serves little but to obscure a serious discussion of the artist and his remarkable works. At this time of great popularity and exposure to the public in the East and the West, a rethinking of the artist and his works seems highly overdue.

For this purpose, the University of Zurich has invited the top Japanese scholars who have been working on Rosetsu over the last years. We have planned a two-day conference with presentations and discussions and are inviting both younger and more established scholars, including Professors Yasuhiro Satō and Motoaki Kōno, who has been working on Rosetsu since the 1970s. Among the younger stars in the field, we are inviting Momo Miyazaki and Hideyuki Okada who have recently changed Rosetsu scholarship in significant ways.

The aim is to gather these scholars and to have them engage with each other and pool their knowledge into meaningful discussions. The expected result of the conference is to spread wider knowledge of this outstanding artist among the scholarly community and among the public. We also hope that discoveries in the life and works of the artist will be a lasting result of this conference.

The symposium is free and open to the public. No prior registration is required. Presentations will be in Japanese and in English. Texts in English will be supplied for presentations held in Japanese. For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art: kgoa@khist.uzh.ch.

The symposium is organized by the Section for East Asian Art, University of Zurich, and is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss-Japanese Society, and the University of Zurich Foundation (Hochschulstiftung).

S A T U R D A Y ,  2 0  O C T O B E R  2 0 1 8

佐藤康宏 Satō Yasuhiro, University of Tokyo
「長澤蘆雪における〈反動〉― 應舉の氷を破る」/ Rosetsu’s Backlash: Breaking the Ice of Ōkyo

野口剛 Noguchi Takeshi, 根津美術館 Nezu Art Museum
「月光」と詩情の回復:師・円山応挙との比較による長沢芦雪に関する考察 / Moonlight and the Return of Sentiment: Nagasawa Rosetsu in Comparison to His Master Maruyama Ōkyo

岡田秀之 Okada Hideyuki, 嵯峨嵐山日本美術研究所 Saga-Arashiyama Institute for Japanese Art
「芦雪の初期作品について」/ On the Early Works by Rosetsu

河野元昭 Kōno Motoaki, 静嘉堂文庫 Seikadō Bunko Art Museum
「私が見てきた長澤蘆雪受容の変化」/ Changes in Rosetsu Reception That I Have Observed Over the Years

中谷伸生 Nakatani Nobuo, Kansai University
「芦雪と大坂画壇」/ Osaka Painters and Rosetsu

S U N D A Y ,  2 1  O C T O B E R  2 0 1 8

宮崎ももMiyazaki Momo, 大和文華館 Yamato Bunkakan
「芦雪の指頭画をめぐって」/ On the Finger Paintings of Rosetsu

Hans Bjarne Thomsen, University of Zurich
The Kansai Eccentric

筒井忠仁 Tsutsui Tadahito, 文化庁Agency for Cultural Affairs
「南紀から広島へ―長澤蘆雪の画風の変遷と精神の変容―」/ From Nanki to Hiroshima: The Transition of the Nagasawa Rosetsu’s Style and the Transformation of his Spirit

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