Saturday, October 9, 2010

Takarai Kikaku

Here we have another Gekko painting which exhibits his skill using delicate color washes over strong bones. I have cropped the painting to emphasise the figure.
I suspect this is a painting of Takarai Kikaku the famous poet. If this is correct it also suggests a date for this painting, 1907, as this was the 300th anniversary of his death, an event celebrated in Japanese artistic circles. The 2 frogs next to Gekko's signature are perhaps an allusion to Kikaku's illustrious teacher Basho and his famous frog haiku.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


At one stage in his career Gekko went through a phase of using color washes over relatively strong 'bones'. This way of painting is similar to the shades of black washes seen in traditional sumi-e, a technique in which Gekko was very adept.
Today's painting shows the color wash technique nicely, the subject it the Kesobumi-uri, the seller of love letters. The love letters were actually a sort of fortune telling device, which the young men and women bought to see how they would fare in love over the coming year. I am uncertain as to why the seller's mouth is covered, perhaps to disguise him, perhaps because these letters were only sold on the first 3 days of the new year, a chilly time of year. He holds one letter in his hand, the others will be contained in the container on his chest, over his shoulder he carries the traditional plum blossom branch