Sunday, June 9, 2013
Two small Japanese art exhibits at the Freer
When: through August 4, 2013
There are two one-room shows on now at the Freer, part of their "Arts of Japan" series. One, from which the picture at left is drawn, is entitled "Poetic License: Making Old Words New." Included in this room are works that interpret Japanese literature; they are a new way of "seeing" the stories.
I was particularly struck by the beauty of the calligraphy in the work, "Landscape with Calligraphy," which was most likely a work dashed off quickly by an artist meeting with his friends, gathering communally to discuss the arts, in imitation of the Chinese gentlemen scholars, whose lives sound so civilized. A document box caught my eye as well - if only I had something as lovely in which to store my papers, I'm sure I would file them immediately! A special treat for me was to see the "Immortals of Poetry" by Hokusai. I saw so much of his work last year, that I think of him as an old friend now and am delighted when I see anything by him.
When you see a painting of birds in combination with plants or trees, know that this is really a rebus puzzle. Each element in the painting has a meaning, and when put together, they make a message for the recipient.
I liked "Rooster, Hen & Chicks" and "Eagle" by Kishi Gahku, which offer rather jaded views of these feathered icons held in such high esteem by Edo society. The hen is feeding a dragonfly to one of her chicks - not such a happy turn of events for the insect!
Verdict: When have I not recommended a show at the Freer? These two can easily be seen in one trip and make a lovely break from whatever cares the day presents. If you're lucky enough to walk over on a beautiful day, that's a lot of stress relief in one trip!