Japan art and Imao Keinen (1845-1923)

Japan art and Imao Keinen (1845-1923)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Imao Keinen (1845-1923) is famous for kacho-e art (birds and flowers). From a young age, Keinen studied calligraphy, printmaking, and classical Japanese art. 

Sadly, the convulsions of the ending of the Edo Period and the start of the Meiji Period entailed his father going bankrupt. Hence, Keinen became a textile designer to survive economically.

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum says, “Keinen Imao was born in Kyoto and studied classical Japanese painting, calligraphy, and printmaking. The upheaval of the transitional phase between the Edo and Meiji eras around 1868 ultimately bankrupted his family business. As a result, Keinen kept himself afloat by making a living as a textile designer. He later founded his own studio and established himself as a painter and printmaker. He secured a post as a professor at the Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting in 1888.”

The environs of Kyoto influenced Keinen. This concerns high culture, philosophy, and the arts. Hence, one can imagine the economic upheavals that befell his family – and countless others.

He studied under Suzuki Hyakunen before starting his artistic journey. In time, Keinen taught students at the Kyoto Prefecture School of Painting.

In the last art piece, two rabbits are enjoying the moonlight. The setting looks tranquil – while they search for food. Overall, the art of Keinen is a million miles from the social convulsions that befell his family – and the people of Japan during this period of history.

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