At the Crossroads – Verism & Artifice in Early Modern Japanese Art

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: At the Crossroads – Verism & Artifice in Early Modern Japanese Art
Stream: Art/Art History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Pauline Ota, DePauw University, United States (organizer, presenter, chair)
Kazuko Kameda-Madar, University of Hawai'i, West Oahu, United States (presenter)
Naoko Matsumoto, Nijō Castle Office, Japan (presenter)
Helen Nagata, Northern Illinois University, United States (presenter)


This panel examines the function of, and/or relationships between, verism and artifice in art during Japan’s early modern period (1603-1868). While the focus of each of the four papers will be on specific works of art, the roles played by poetry, literature, popular storytelling, and encyclopedic compendia in their creation also will be explored. Under what circumstances was verism preferred over artifice and vice versa? How might verism and/or artifice strengthen the overall impact or add to the allure of art? The answers reveal an early modern Japan engaging with novel ideas and knowledge from within, as well as beyond, its borders and advancing towards a crossroads, one that would lead to Japan’s modern turn.

Kameda-Madar compares two distinct paintings on the Orchid Pavilion Gathering theme, one by Ike Taiga, depicting an idealized community, and another by Maruyama Ōkyo, presenting a continuum from actual space to illusionary space. Matsumoto also investigates differing approaches to one subject, analyzing two "Paintings of Rice Cultivation in the Four Seasons," one by Nakajima Kayō and the other by Kano Eigaku, and focusing on Kayō’s employment of verism. Nagata examines the humanity that lies in the convergence of verism and artifice at the heart of Kawamura Kihō’s artistic expression in the printed book "Leave Joys and Sorrows to the Brush" (Kafuku ninpitsu, 1809). And, Ota interrogates the adroit juxtaposition of the convincingly true-to-life with the charmingly idealized in Maruyama Ōkyo’s "Puppies Among Bamboo in the Snow," seeking the early modern heart of the kawaii aesthetic.