Lakeside Temple (Landscape in Shûbun style)Artist(s)JapaneseArtist NationalityJapanese (culture or style)Object Creation Datelate 15th century - early 16th centuryMedium & Supporthanging scroll, ink on paperDimensions
12 7/8 in x 15 5/8 in (32.7 cm x 39.7 cm)Credit LineGift of Mr. and Mrs. Province M. HenryLabel copy
One of the distinctive aspects of Zen imagery is the important place granted to landscape as a genre. This is due partly to the historical accident that Zen institutions in China reached their zenith during the Southern Song period (1127–1279), a period when court artists, literati, and monks alike were exploring the expressive possibilities of painting in monochrome ink. China had a long and sophisticated critical tradition that viewed landscape painting as a place of virtual refuge from the “dusty world” of urban life. Landscapes by Chinese monk-painters were eagerly collected and copied in Japan.
In Japanese Zen establishments, ink landscape painting came into vogue only in the fifteenth century, much later than other Zen subjects. The monk-painter Shûbun (active 1423–1460) was the progenitor of a style that dominated the Kyoto market for most of the fifteenth century and survived still longer as a much-sought after ‘brand.” This view of a lakeside temple is a good example of a later work done in Shûbun’s manner. Individual elements—the angular cliffs, the tall pines, the careful delineation of the architecture, and even the amorphous mist—have been extracted from Southern Song paintings. The lack of spatial logic would be troubling to a Chinese critic, but the essence of Shûbun’s approach is its very ambiguity. For Japanese Zen monks and their warrior patrons, ink landscapes in Shûbun’s style evoked an idealized setting for contemplative practice.
Arts of Zen, February 15-June 15, 2003
M. Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian ArtPrimary Object ClassificationPaintingAdditional Object Classification(s)PaintingCollection AreaAsianRights
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