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Guignard Kyoto Collection

Panel: Two Landscapes (formerly Diptych) | Kanō Yōsen'in 狩野養川院 | 1753-1808

Panel: Two Landscapes (formerly Diptych) | Kanō Yōsen'in 狩野養川院 | 1753-1808

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Yōsen'in was the sixth head of the Kobikichō studio of the Kanō school in Tokyo and was in the direct service of the then shogun (as a so-called oku eshi). He received several high ranks that testify to his official esteem.

A professional painter of that time had to master various styles; a personal style was not in demand, especially in the Kanō school. In this diptych, Yōsein'in provides evidence of his mastery of Chinese ink painting, as it had been practiced in Japan since the 15th century. In it, he follows a standard composition of two landscapes, which in the diptych are pulled up on the "outsides" of the pictures and closed off at the top by mountains rising out of the mist.

Yōsenin's brush language is convincing in the refreshing attack of his brush, which is barely saturated with ink. This almost rough-looking style (which is nevertheless quite traditional) makes the Zen culture, to which this type of painting is deeply connected, particularly tangible. We recognize here an effort to express unadorned truthfulness, which aptly reflects the ascetic attitude of the Zen monks, who are averse to all frills.

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