The Power of Form
Objects for a sales exhibition held in our New York gallery between February 5 and March 28, 1998.and published as Kaikodo Journal VII were chosen to illustrate the general theme “The Power of Form,” that is, the ability of the shape and structure of certain objects to communicate with the viewer and move us independently of their meaning, their function, or the materials from which they are made. To that end a number of Chinese works of art in the exhibition stand out as stunning examples of the power of form. Included among these are four bronze bells which are entirely free of ornament but have an impact that is immediate and truly powerful.
Form also refers to the method of coordinating elements in a composition, and the paintings on view were chosen to exemplify a wide diversity of solutions to that problems. They also exhibit a full range of the material forms, or formats, used by Chinese and Japanese artists. The power of an immense hanging scroll upon a viewer will obviously differ from that of a small album leaf or a fan, regardless of the subject of the painting. The choice of format can therefore provide immediate insight into, at least, the intentions of a painter while subject, style, and brushwork can often be revealing of far more
The highlights of the exhibition included a pair of late Zhou dynasty bronze fanghu vessels with exquisite interlaced designs and a stunning blue patina, unusual ceramic and stone mingqi of the Han, a rare Six Dynasties gilt-bronze arrow quiver ornament, and an underglaze-blue decorated Vietnamese dish with an engaging image of an elephant frolicking among clouds. Paintings ranged from a 13th century image of insects and autumn grasses to a masterwork landscape painting of the 17th century master Gong Xian. The Japanese paintings included a pair of hanging scrolls with enchanting subjects presented in a most lyrical style by Watanabe Gentai of the late 18th-early 19th century and a powerful ink painting of bamboo, blossoming plum, and orchids by Yamamoto Baiitsu and dated to 1838.