River of Stars
March 8 - April 28, 2017
This online edition of the Kaikodo Journal, our thirty-third since 1996, corresponds to a sales exhibition held in our New York gallery between March 8 and April 28, 2017. The catalogue introduces and discusses 30 Chinese paintings, 14 Japanese paintings and 32 Chinese works of art, ranging in date from the 6th century B.C. to the 21st century. Mary Ann Rogers wrote the entries for the works of art numbered 44 to 76. She was ably assisted by Carol Conover, director of our gallery in New York. I am responsible for all the painting entries but am most grateful for the assistance throughout from Hiroshi Kawasaki of Osaka, who contributed greatly to my understanding of iconography, transcriptions of seals and inscriptions, and translations of a good number of these. Kazuko Kameda-Madar of Honolulu, a specialist in Japanese painting, was very helpful with all of the Japanese entries and answered a good number of miscellaneous queries as well.
We are also grateful to various specialists who exercised their skills on our behalf and thus made this exhibition and catalogue possible. Our conservators included Pekky Wan in Hong Kong and Meguro Masakazu in Tokyo. Photography was accomplished mainly by the incomparable John Taylor and Dianne Dubler, who are also our favorite dining companions. Yolanda “Yollie” Rosales, a mainstay of our gallery, is charged with many things, including inventory control, and now she is also able to provide acceptable photographic images of small items. And last but not least, Robert Lyman, who works with us in Hawaii, is in charge of our website and internet communications, continues to provide the technical assistance which other members of Kaikodo stand in frequent need, and who assists and supports us on numerous other fronts as well.
The theme of this exhibition is “River of Stars,” xinghan or xinghe. Since ancient times the Chinese have come up with numerous ways to designate what much of the Western world terms “The Milky Way.” In the West this galaxy that we see as a band of milky or speckled light curving across the sky is perceived as a path, road, or way. However, in the Eastern world—in India, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China as well as Egypt, which sits across both Western and Eastern hemispheres—it is perceived as a waterway or river, sometimes with very specific local references to describe it: “The Nile in the Sky” or “The Ganges of Heaven.”
The arts of Asia populate our world as stars do our home galaxy and we here offer a few shining examples from this prodigious output. The Chinese paintings, dating from the 13th to the 21st century, are dominated by “Silver Pheasants under Spring Blossoms,” a monumental work fit for a palace wall by the mid-Ming dynasty painter, Ye Shuangshi. Of similar date is Zhang Yuanfeng’s “Wang Xizhi Writing on a Fan.” Coincidently the exhibition also features a Japanese version of the same subject by Aoki Shukuya (1737-1807), allowing comparison of the differences between Chinese and Japanese approaches to art. Eight miniature albums by 19th-early 20th century Japanese painters add a sprinkling of stardust to the works on view. Highlights among the Chinese works of art, made in such diverse materials as jade, glass, silver, bronze, lacquer, ceramic and porcelain, include a Ming dynasty celadon dish inscribed in Arabic, a Tang-period gilt-bronze Nestorian cross, and a very rare late Ming dynasty underglaze-blue decorated kosometsuke inkstone, made expressly for the Japanese market.
We also take this opportunity to acknowledge the loss of one of the founding members of the coterie of scholars who established Chinese art-history as a respectable and serious field in the United States: Richard Edwards, Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Included here at the end of the catalogue section are accounts of his approach to teaching by several of his numerous students. If others of this illustrious group whom we have not had the opportunity to contact would like to add words of their own, we would be most grateful and will add them to the compendium here post haste.
My own students at Sophia University in Tokyo knew Dick’s name well, for at the beginning of graduate seminars I would have all members read the articles on the Yuan master Qian Xuan written by James Cahill, Wen Fong, and Professor Edwards. Their conclusion was usually that Cahill had the best art-history, Fong the best theories, but it was Edwards who really loved painting. We will miss him as a friend and as an exemplar without peer.
Mary Ann Rogers,