Kaikodo Journal XXXVII
Corresponding to the exhibition held between Spring and Fall, 2021. 21 Chinese and Japanese paintings; 25 Chinese and Japanese works of art. Preface by Mary Ann Rogers. Online edition.
Earthly Agendas is comprised of Chinese and Japanese paintings, ceramics and a selection of Chinese metalware. As usual, each item is accompanied by a descriptive and expository writeup and, as always, we are happy to respond to your requests for whatever additional images or information you might need.
The title, Earthly Agendas, came to us as we were putting the exhibition together, gathering images in various media of beasts of burden and animals of the wild, of paintings of landscapes natural and tamed, of ancient Japanese pottery and representative wares of Chinese kilns over several centuries, and, lastly, of metalware that struck a cord with our desire to pay homage to the Year of the Metal Ox. It struck us that each artistic endeavor, despite its cultural raison d’être, was in fact deeply rooted in terra firma, in the earth’s soil, sand, loam and terrain, whether by substance, structure or subject, while each also went beyond, anticipating the future of the art.
Due to their physical natures, some works are direct manifestations of this concept: Japanese ceramics whether Neolithic pots that look as if the earth simply spun them into being or their successors produced millennia later that have more in common with rocks or mountains than anything made by human hands. If Jōmon pottery’s dynamic sculptural garnishes are the obvious work of artisans or artists, the inspiration and message flow from the rhythms of nature. The essential icy blues of Chinese yingqing or qingbai glazes could not have come into being if it were not for the specific makeup of the natural materials at hand, and, unbeknownst to those workmen, a step in the direction of China’s later porcelain production and history when the materials at hand were used to even greater effect. Awestruck by the sheer majesty of streams and mountains without end or consumed by a desire to make a great escape to those environs, a world of landscape painting was produced that is unique to Asia.
Engaging with these works of art that represent the creative efforts of artists and craftsmen on cultural, art-historical and aesthetic levels still allows room to recognize and appreciate their roots and foundations, which existed prior to human intervention.