Aida Yuen Wong - Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Brandeis University
As modern classifications separated sho (calligraphy) from its traditional partner ga (painting), calligraphy as bijutsu (fine art) was being questioned. As a calligrapher, Nakamura Fusetsu (1866-1943) studied the works of the Stele School in China, introducing an archaic style that was unfamiliar to the Japanese audience at the time. In so doing, not only did he establish links to leading Chinese calligraphers and theorists, notably Kang Youwei, he also brought sho closer to fashionable notions of “art” predicated on inventiveness and historicism. This paper focuses on the theoretical and stylistic foundation of Fusetsu’s representative works of calligraphy, including Ryūminjō, and considers such works in relation to the changed perception of sho. Fusetsu’s correlative practice of collecting Chinese artifacts will also be discussed as his aesthetic reinforcement.