Art of Japan and Torii Kiyonaga: Images of serenity
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Many individuals in modernized nations often look back to an imagined time of serenity. Of course, the reality is most likely different. Yet aspects of cultural identity and continuity appeal. Therefore, irrespective if art emanates from China, France, Japan, or wherever, the stresses of reality are often neglected.
Monetary concerns were also at a premium prior to modernization. Equally, artists often had patrons or focused on the commercial angle. In more distant times then Buddhism, Christianity, and other faiths penetrated the artistic soul because of various factors.
For Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) it was no different. Thus he focused on the school of art he belonged to and the commercial angle.
In the art pieces highlighted in this article, the focus is on serenity. This even applies to the coldness of winter where the fashion attire still dominates.
In a past article, I comment, “Kiyonaga focused on bijinga (the art of beautiful women), Kabuki actors, depicting courtesans, and is famous for nishiki-e (brocade pictures – multi-colored woodblock printing). He also produced shunga (erotic art). However, aspects of the Kansei Reforms and the political edicts that followed sought to suppress this art form.”
If people conjure up the old world of Japanese attire and simplistic sophistication, then these images hit the right chord. Of course, other Japanese artists focused on similar themes. However, Kiyonaga is highly esteemed and he upheld the reputation of Torii art.
Overall, the world of art can enable individuals to escape the stresses of life. Of course, much will depend on the artist and art themes that people are viewing. Hence, in these simplistic images, Kiyonaga is re-connecting people to bygone days that still attract the senses!
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