Japan has a rich history that is derived from their interaction with different countries in the continent. The country is known for its variety of cultural aspects that have been present from time immemorial. One of the ways that the country uses to capture the culture and history is through the use of art. Art is a way of life; this medium is used to express the thoughts, feelings and opinions of an artist. Not everyone has the talent of interpreting their thought into an art form. The availability of quality artists is thus essential so as to relay an accurate message. Artists act as a medium between the society and culture. The use of art is therefore a feature that can be traced to the initial stages of human development. Over the years, the country has been able to produce a vast number of respectable art pieces reflective of the different periods in Japanese history. Japanese art is as a result divided into different mediums that display the growth and development of the Japanese art industry from the time of its conception to present society (Gulick, p. 241).
The focus of the paper is to provide an analysis of Japanese art. The paper compares two different mediums of art. The paper looks into the both forms of art and their role of art in society. This will be done through the study of the work of individual Japanese artist through their expression of aesthetic, philosophical principles in common.
Traditional Japanese art (painting)
There are different forms of Japanese art. This art is classified according to the era in which it is formed. Traditional Japanese art is the oldest form of art recorded in the country. There are different types of arts classified under the traditional Japanese arts. The most common however is the Japanese painting. This type of painting comprises of traditional Japanese work with western influence. As stated earlier, different periods are reflective of different forms of art. The use of Murals is a common feature in Japanese art; this type of art gets its influence from the Nara period. The Nara period is known for its focus on traditional Japanese religion. Some of the art is displayed in the ancient temples used for worship. The art can be traced from as far as the Chinese cultures. This showcases the culture of the two countries before they split into individual countries. Another era that played a significant role in the evolution of Japanese art is the Buddhism era. This art form comprised of the Mandala art which was predominately Chinese. Over the years Chinese influence continued to be phased out paving way for the authentic Japanese pieces.
This type of art was followed by the Zen monasteries. The use of ink took centre stage in a majority of the work displayed. Paintings were much more sophisticated due to the growth of art as a way of life. During this time, the country was ruled by the sung dynasty. The Chinese once again featured a great deal in the formation of the Japanese art. The Muromachi period saw the change of the gradual change of the Zen art from the Chinese style art to complete Japanese features. The Japanese art was applied in all forms of infrastructure used in the country. Most if the art was seen in the walls of the houses, the famous sliding doors and the castles. As stated earlier, a high percentage of the art pieces were influenced by religion. This in turn reflected on the way the artists painted. The initial instrument of painting consisted of the paintbrush. This was used to draw the scriptures used for the worship in the temple. As time passed, society reduced their emphasis on religion. People were exposed to other types of allegiances reducing the validity of religion. The shift to a less religious state changed the dynamics of the way the artists painted. Inspiration was no longer derived from the scriptures leaving space for other forms of paintings. This paved way for painting using a more elaborate instrument known as the pen. The painting pen was sharper in comparison to the brush. The pictures and writings produced a new form of art that took a whole new form.
Most of these forms are used to express the thoughts of the artists. This is displayed through the use of philosophical aesthetic and religious points of views. The Japanese artists are responsible for displaying the social aspects in society. Japanese artist use traditional art as a medium to relay the ongoing occurrences in the country. The country is a byproduct of the combination of several dynasties. These dynasties have been evolving for over a million years. The artist have had to keep up with the evolution so as their art can reflect on social-cultural norms. The aesthetic perspective of the artists is significance due to their vision and creativity. Most of these elements are enhanced using the point of view of the artist which in turn contributes to the socialization of the community.
Traditional art (pottery and sculpture)
Pottery and sculpture are classified under a different form of art that fall under the traditional art. Most of the art produced using this medium are practical in nature as opposed to painting. The use of pottery is reflective of the way of life the people of Japan live. Pottery is used to make essential commodities which are in turn is used to trade with other communities. Japanese pottery is derived from the pottery that was earlier developed in Korea. Some of the most common designs took the shape of dragons and flowers. The use of pots creates the demand for the improvement of pottery as a form of art. Sculpture on the other hand consists of the use of different forms of stones and wood to form different shapes. Sculptures take different forms which are derived from significant items in society. Sculpture and pottery are used vastly in bay families, temples and buildings. The comparison between the two and paintings showcase some similarities and differences (Mason, Penelope and Dinwiddie, p. 114).
Similar conceptual and artistic characteristics
Sculpture and pottery is entirely different from painting; all these types of art require an immense amount of training. Some of the artist spends their lifetime improving on their pieces so as to increase the value of their work. Paintings are different from pottery and sculptures in so many ways. Despite this, the two have similar qualities that earn them the same recognition by society. One of the similar characteristics the two mediums have is the time at which they were invented. Most of the art was formed during the 14th century; this era is one of the oldest times in the history of Japan. During this time, Japan was becoming a sovereign country due to its split from Chinese ties. A high percentage of the art pieces are thus passed on from generation to generation making the art forms have Chinese influence. Having a similar background affect the way the society perceived the artwork (Lillehoj, p. 245).
Society plays an essential role in the shaping of both mediums of art. Majority of the aesthetics are inspired by individual artists. This changes when a systematic analysis of different artists is performed. Each art form has a connection to a community that is responsible for its creation. Pottery, sculpture and paintings are used in traditional architecture and construction. Most of these features are displayed in all parts of the buildings. Public sights were not left behind; statues were placed in the streets of Japan (Kuitert, p. 325).
As stated earlier, China is an ideal part of the creation of the Japanese art. Both mediums of art are traced their roots from Chinese art which is reflective of the dynasties present in different periods. Both paintings and sculptures are not entirely products of the Japanese art forms. The art is thus a mixture of different Asian countries which have later got their own identity (Seiroku, and Takahashi, p 311).
The art forms have similar characteristics which are credited to the influence from the same culture. Despite this, mediums have little difference that gives them a new platform. As stated earlier, Japanese mediums of art are products of ancient inspired art pieces. The present mediums have however undergone several phases due to the change in culture. The evolution of the art has created new art forms and mediums that have different characteristics. These characteristics are created due to the introduction of individualism. Individualistic japans art involves the aesthetic of a personal nature. Artist’s form new classifications within the mediums that is reflective of their personal opinion as opposed to the social-cultural aspects (Marra, p. 263).
Artists have different ways of expressing themselves; most of the traditional artists are formally trained in accordance with the rules of their masters. This makes them identify with a particular medium of art in their initial stages of artistry. As they continue to advance, their work becomes more elaborate making increase their influence in the industry. There are several schools that have been introduced to encourage the study of traditional ancient art. The two mediums differ on many levels giving them their own identity as a result. Despite the differences that they portray, they have the same similarities which make them fall under the category of ancient Japanese art.
In conclusion, a majority of the countries have dedicated their lives to the creation and evolution of art. Most of the renowned come from European countries such as France, Italy and Spain. This makes artist focus on European art forgetting about other the contribution of other countries. Japan has managed to fight this notion due to their rich culture that acts as an inspiration for artists. The world as a result has begun to take recognition of the various mediums of Japanese art. This has improved the countries influence in the industry both locally and globally. The country continues to feature some of its art in the modern galleries. This educates society about the social-cultural historical aspects. This in turn, improves the historical knowledge making the country stand out as one of the key players in the world of art.
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Lillehoj, Elizabeth. Critical Perspectives on Classicism in Japanese Painting: 1600-1700. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004. Print.
Mason, Penelope E, and Donald Dinwiddie. History of Japanese Art. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.
Marra, Michael F. A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2002. Print.
Noma, Seiroku, and Bin Takahashi. The Arts of Japan. Tokyo: Kondansha International, 2003. Print.