Japanese Art in the Edo Period: Ogata Korin and Growing Legacy

| |

Japanese Art in the Edo Period: Ogata Korin and Growing Legacy 

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The artist Ogata Korin (1658-1716) was nearly “the forgotten man” of Japanese art until individuals like Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828) brought his art back to life. This is rather surprising given the nature of his individualism and the quality of his finest works of art. However, the art of Ogata Korin was being undervalued until certain important people “saw the light.”


It is apparent that Ogata Korin had a rather pleasant upbringing because his father not only adored art, but he also had the capital to support the rich talents of his son. Therefore, his father who was a very successful merchant also supported his son in the field of art. This fact meant that the stress of making a living in the early period wasn’t an issue and because of this Ogata Korin had time to plan his next steps.


It is known that Hon’ami Koetsu and Tawaraya Sotatsu influenced him but this didn’t diminish his personal creativity. Therefore, Ogata Korin created stunning art pieces which highlighted his own personal flamboyance and in the future this would pay rich dividends.


Ogata Korin’s distinctive style applies to utilizing contrasting color, bold designs, ignoring traditional artistic conventions in Japan, and disregarding the approach of realism within some of his art. Of course, the rich traditions of Japanese art blessed Ogata Korin. Also, Hon’ami Koetsu and Tawaraya Sotatsu clearly impacted on Ogata Korin despite his different approach to art.


Despite his rich artistic talents it is abundantly clear that he was becoming the “forgotten artist” until important individuals highlighted his art long after his death. This notably applies to Sakai Hoitsu who became charmed by the art of Ogata Korin.


In an earlier article I commented that “The White and Red Plum Blossoms painting by Korin is very fascinating from a neutral point of view…Ogata Korin visualizes this image from a different vantage point because he shows the two plum trees from a different angle. This applies to a position on the ground when viewing the two plum trees and this style is appealing in its own right.”


The following website http://www.all-art.org/ sums up this reality because it is stated that “Ogata Korin used none of these Western perspective conventions. He showed the two plum trees as seen from a position on the ground, while viewers look down on the stream between them from above. Less concerned with locating the trees and stream in space than with composing shapes on a surface, the painter played the water’s gently swelling curves against the jagged contours of the branches and trunks. Neither the French nor the Japanese painting can be said to project “correctly” what viewers “in fact” see. One painting is not a “better” picture of the world than the other. The European and Asian artists simply approached the problem of picture-making differently.”


Watanabe Shiko (1683-1755) is also another individual who was bewitched by the individualism and style of Ogata Korin. Yet just like Ogata Korin, Watanabe Shiko also maintained a firm conviction towards creating his own style.


On the website of www.artelino.com it is stated that Korin Ogata was a painter of the Rimpa School. But he was also a very versatile artisan who worked in ceramics, textile designs and lacquer ware. Korin Ogata’s style of nature paintings influenced generations of artists after him. His designs were copied until the 20th century.”


The richness of Ogata Korin shines out and thankfully the “nearly forgotten man of Japanese art” rose like a phoenix when it seemed that he would be passed by within the Japanese art world. His unique style enriches the fine traditions of Japanese art.





Comments are closed