Muromachi Period

Topics: Zen, Ink and wash painting, China Pages: 6 (1770 words) Published: April 17, 2005
The Muromachi style of Zen Buddhism has influence art and design ever since it's beginning in the 14th century. Although it was influenced by the Chinese styles at a parallel time, they both are still influential and noticed in today's world.

For years Japanese Ink Painting continued to be consistent with a basis on nature, and simplicity. Was the beginning of Minimalism in Japan? Was it intentional? The open composition of space and content on paper is a key of today's design. The simplicity of monochromatic work is still appreciated in almost every art form.

This is a contrast to the Renaissance that occurred during the same time period. There was never work similar in Europe, it was mostly elaborate and colorful. This proves that the Asian styles are the origin of minimalism.

Even in architecture and landscape, there was interpretation and consistence of nature. The "Zen Garden" is a key concept that has lasted through the years. The Japanese styles of architecture were inspired by the consistency and simplicity of nature. They were the first to incorporate outside and inside, using a lot of patio space, and open surfaces, using round posts, and hinged translucent walls (Japan, 229).

The dominant styles of the Muromachi Period, Ink Painting, Landscape, and Architecture, are visible in today's society in all cultures. Design fields incorporate the same appreciation that the Zen Buddhists did. Aesthetics, the set of principles of good taste and the appreciation on beauty, especially in the philosophy of art (Reader's, 26). During the Muromachi Period, Sesshu (1420-1506) was known as the most famous artist in his medium of Ink Paintings. He was a monk that dedicated his life to painting. He traveled to areas of China and the natural landscape inspired his work heavily. He denied any influence from the Chinese art he saw on his journey. Like the work of Ni Zan (1308-1374), a Chinese Yuan Dynasty ink painter. (History, 842-861)

Sesshu's most noted work was the "Winter Landscape." This painting was done after his excursion through China, in the 1467. It is 18.25 x 11.5" in size, and was produced by rushing black ink on a paper. It is overlapped view of a landscape in the foreground, with large mountainous cliffs as a stable background. The layers provide a depth and point of view. There is a monk walking a series of steps and paths towards a simple monastery at the base of the cliffs.

The monochromatic tones, and vivid, thick lines provide a lot of contrast. It uses washed tints for more texture on the rock surfaces and shadowed areas, and leaves the paper clean where snow and space are depicted. The planar view divides the foreground, while the jolt in the cliffs split the entire upper half of the painting. This provides a stability and balance to the work.

As in most works of this time, he is expressing the simplicity and serenity of the landscape, which is a parallel to the intended lifestyle of a monk. It is very particular to their culture in the Zen Buddhism was an important theory of that time. Although, some aspects of the work might be claimed to have been influenced by the Chinese practices of the same genre.

Ni Zan , and Yuan painter from China, created the "Rongxi Studio" painting, the most famous piece of his time. The monochromatic ink painting was very personalized to Ni Zan's self. He was a very carefree individual. He was very careless in his depiction of his homeland's natural scenery. Contrary to styles of that time, he was not intending on satisfying any viewer. He solely wanted to paint, and the brush, ink, and paper were free in his hands.

The "Rongxi Studio" painting was done in 1372, and is a hanging scroll. Its height is around 30", and is ink on paper. It depicts a subtle scene of layers in a foggy swampy landscape, with a hilly area in the background. These layers provide a depth perception to the piece. It is very loose, and passive. There aren't any intense contrast changes,...
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