In the Eye of the Beholder
This issue of the Kaikodo Journal corresponds to a sale exhibition held in our gallery in New York between September 16 and October 21, 2000. The theme, “In the Eye of the Beholder,” was chosen to emphasize the function of individual taste as we enjoy, collect, and study the cultural products of other times and places. Our personal “eye” determines not only what we see-what we find significant enough to take note of-but also what we make of it, what meanings we attach to these visual discoveries. The works of art and paintings, included in the present exhibition were chosen in the hope of challenging viewers to examine their own taste and eye, to define for themselves what is “In the Eye of the Beholder.” The show was introduced by examples from the Chinese and Japanese Neolithic periodand ranged through intriguing Han period funerary wares, Tang sancai vessels, classic Song wares, and included among the later objects, mother-of-pearl inlaid lacquer and a range of fine textiles. While a 14th century painting of a coxcomb blooming from a leafy stalk would fall within a realm of beauty for most observers, the monochrome ink paintings of later dynasties might be a challenge without some background, and thus the informative and enlightening entries in the journal might be of great use. An even clear contrast is seen in an excruciatingly beautiful painting by the 19th-early 20th century Japanese painter Sakai Hoshuku of a explosion of flowers and grasses, done in a careful outline and color fill-in style, next to the grotesque visage of the immortal Gama, done in a contrasting swifter and basically monochromatic style by Asai Chu,with a large cumbersome toad balanced on the immortal’s head.