Hinges: Sakaki Hyakusen and the Birth of Nanga Painting is the first US exhibition to focus on the art of Sakaki Hyakusen (1697–1752), the founding father of the Nanga school of painting in Japan. A pivotal figure in the history of Japanese art, Hyakusen served as a hinge between two artistic traditions: working from close observation of Chinese painting, he played a key role in the transformation of painting in eighteenth-century Japan. Much like the literati painting tradition in Ming dynasty China, where painting was appreciated as an expression of the learned gentleman with deep knowledge of literature, poetry, philosophy, and art, the Nanga school artists used painting as a means to express their own deep thoughts and feelings. This presentation brings together works by Hyakusen with stellar pieces by artists from the first and second generations of Nanga painting, such as Ike Taiga and Yosa Buson, drawn from the collections of BAMPFA as well as major lenders including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Hinges highlights the extensive conservation of Mountain Landscape, an eighteenth-century pair of six-fold screens by Hyakusen. A gift to BAMPFA from the late Professor Emeritus James Cahill, one of the world’s leading authorities on Nanga painting, this work was recognized by Cahill as a masterpiece. Details of the project revealed in the exhibition not only offer fresh insights into Hyakusen’s painting, but also open a window into the complex and highly specialized art of conservation.
A richly illustrated catalog, with essays by Julia M. White, Felice Fischer, Kyoko Kinoshita, and Tomokatsu Kawazu, is available in the Museum Store.