Visions of Man in Chinese Art
The Fall 1997 Kaikodo exhibition, held from March 17 to April 12 and corresponding with Kaikodo Journal III, was the first of our multi-media exhibitions organized around a central theme. “Visions of Man in Chinese Art,” which in hindsight might have been better entitled “Visions of the Human Form in Chinese Art,” presented the varying contexts in which human figures occur in pre-modern Chinese art, particularly in the areas of Chinese painting and early works of art. Especially noteworthy was the earliest known painted Chinese portrait that is self-identified as a portrait and a figure paint ing on a Chan Buddhist theme attributed to• the late 11th century master Li Gonglin. Painted and sculpted images of humans are fairly common in Han dynasty art and well-represented in the exhibition, and later Buddhist art, focused on human and super human forms, was also well-represented. Japanese artists quite often portrayed Chinese figural themes and of course invented many of their own. The images in the exhibition thus range widely over time, space, and medium and it was hoped that the variety would give some indication of the inventiveness of artists who took up the challenges posed by the human form.
Another kind of creativity is suggested by consideration of the Japanese artist Rinkoku, a painter, calligrapher, poet, seal-carver, inveterate traveler, and most engaging personality. An exhibition of the works of Rinkoku was organized in one of Kaikodo’s side galleries by Prof. Steven Addiss, who also conceived the plan for a day of literati art at Kaikodo during which demonstrations were given of seal-carving, painting, calligraphy, koto-playing, and sencha tea-drinking.