Ito Jakuchu: Buddhist Beauty

Ito Jakuchu, Mandarin Ducks in Snow, from Colorful Realm of Living Beings, 1759,
Ito Jakuchu, Mandarin Ducks in Snow, from Colorful Realm of Living Beings, 1759, set of 30 vertical hanging scrolls, ca. 1757, ink and colors on silk, Sannomaru Shozokan Tokyo

Donald Kuspit reviews the recent exhibition Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Kuspit writes that "It seems possible to link Jukuchu's 18th-century Japanese nature paintings to 19th-century European paintings romanticizing nature... But European paintings that 'romanticize' nature, whether as ingratiatingly idyllic or in stormy action, don't fully enlighten us about the truth of nature as Jukuchu's paintings do, however fewer the details of nature on which they focus, not to say meditate. The European romantic nature paintings are simply not as beautiful, esthetically shocking, profoundly meaningful, and 'knowledgeable.' "