Zwölf Tierkreiszeichen | Suzuki Kason 鈴木華邨 | 1860-1919

Twelve signs of the zodiac | Suzuki Kason 鈴木華邨 | 1860-1919

Suzuki Kason is an outstanding painter of the Meiji period (1868-1912). He is not considered one of the "avant-gardists" of this radical period in Japanese art history, but rather an artist who was still strongly committed to the tradition of Maruyama Ōkyō (1733-1795) - the great genius of the 18th century. Despite this, he always appears fresh and imaginative. Even the choice of the twelve signs of the zodiac as a motif for a pair of folding screens is not a given. These symbols are often found as themes in sculpture series or as decorations on plates, sake bowls, etc., but rarely in the large format of folding screens.

Kason depicts every motif in the lowest third of the format, with the exception of the dragon as a fantasy creature of the skies. Although he adheres to the correct cyclical order of the symbols, he still manages to create a free play of dark and light accents in the overall layout, as if he had had free choice of motif arrangement. He also uses color at times - for example with the tiger, the maple leaves of the wild boar or the plum blossoms of the bull. Otherwise, however, he remains committed to classic ink painting and works with many gradations of intensity - from the deepest black to the finest shades of gray.

All twelve images on the two screens are signed, indicating that Kason considered each individual image to be a “work.” This supported the project of assembling all images individually as tableaux and honoring them individually.

Dimensions: 12 panels of two 6-panel screens 60cm (x12) x 175cm | Material: Paper

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