September 2 - November 1, 2009
Gallery & Web Exhibition
“Birdland,” was an exhibition on Chinese and Japanese paintings ranging in format, style and dated from a small exquisite 13th century Chinese album leaf portraying “Shrikes on Bamboo” to a large Ming-period hanging scroll depicting the auspicious “Hundred Birds” to a decorative painting of a magnificent “Peacock Among Peonies” by the Japanese artist Katei of the late 19th century. Sparrows, ducks, mynahs, geese, cranes and crows are captured in their complex worlds with great ornithological accuracy in the case of many of the Chinese paintings whereas, at the opposite extreme, the essence or soul of these feathered creatures is the focus of such Japanese paintings as that by Rosetsu (1754-1799), who conveys in his study of crows the very “crow-ness” of his dark whimsical subjects. More abstract bird motifs also appear in the arts of the East Asia represented in the exhibition by a number of Chinese bronze and ceramic objects and vessels. A life-size owl-shaped vessel of the Western Han dynasty (2nd-1st century B.C.) was modeled from clay to capture in a simplified but powerful form the looming presence of the haunting bird of prey. A finely cast bronze ferrule bursts with curling commas representing the feathers of a bird surmounting a dragon head in a piece dating to the Eastern Zhou period of the 5th-3rd century B.C.