Green Mountains as the Rain Ceases

Urakami (Uragami) Gyokudō 浦上玉堂 Japanese

Not on view

Characteristic of Urakami (Uragami) Gyokudō's later works, from his sixties and early seventies, the brushwork at first glance seems uncontrolled. On closer inspection, however, this work reveals a careful structure of lighter and drier ink tonalities: the mountains, hills, and rocks roughly laid out in light washes of ink, which are animated by short darker strokes applied in clear, repetitive and rhythmic movements that impart life and vitality to the forms.

A solitary figure—representing the artist or his alter ego we may assume—in a dilapidated hut is dwarfed by the grandeur of the majestic mountain landscape. Mountains, in Gyokudō’s vision, have an animistic, virile quality—sometimes even having a quasi-phallic representation, as here. The hut, lattice fence and its surroundings is rendered by a diverse array of crumbling dry strokes. The title of the work, Green Mountains as the Rain Ceases (Seizan uketsu 青山雨歇), inscribed in the open space to the left of the tallest peak, is rendered in Gyokudō’s highly idiosyncratic yet elegant clerical script.

Gyokudō was a retainer for the Ikeda daimyo clan in Okayama in his early career. In 1793, at age forty-nine he retired to pursue the life of a literatus, focusing on performing and composing for the seven-stringed zither (shichigenkin) as well as painting expressive ink landscapes.

Green Mountains as the Rain Ceases, Urakami (Uragami) Gyokudō 浦上玉堂 (Japanese, 1745–1820), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Japan

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