By Daniel Strawhun, A&E Editor
Pulling from a collection of over 2,600 pieces, the St. Louis Art Museum chose four works to display in the rotating exhibit “Japanese Painting and Calligraphy: Highlights from the Collection.” The pieces currently on display— three hanging scrolls and one large folding screen—will soon return to the climate-controlled storage whence they came. The exhibit is set to be rotated once again on February 12.
The focal point of the exhibit is a large folding screen from the sixteenth century by Kaiho Yosho. The screen, which stretches the length of the gallery and depicts a shoreline, is strikingly modern. The faint ink wash abstracts the landscape into a state of constant disappearance, and the few concrete objects that interrupt it bleed into Rorschach-esque blots.
The oldest piece in the exhibit is a fourteenth-century hanging scroll titled “Poetry Contest between Poets of Different Eras.” The scroll depicts an imaginary dialogue between Prince Motoyoshi of the Heian period (794 to 1185) and the famous poet Fujiwara no Teika of the Kamakura period (1185 to 1333). The scroll is one of a series of 50 such scrolls that depict similar dialogues between Japanese luminaries.
Other pieces featured in the exhibit include “Death of Sakyamuni Buddha,” a painting of the Buddha entering the state of nirvana, and “Old Pine and Crested Mynas,” a playful nature scene. “Japanese Painting and Calligraphy: Highlights from the Collection” is free and can be viewed in gallery 232 of the St. Louis art museum until February 12.