Miriam Wattles - Associate Professor in History of Art and Architecture, UCSB
A new brand of lyricism, very much colored by satire, defines the paintings of Hanabusa Itchô (1652-1724). This explicates Itchô’s relatively unknown painting album, now entitled Fûzoku gajô (or, “album of genre subjects”), delineating how its thirty-six leaves combine strands of poetry, song, and painting to culminate in a complex opus. Trained under one of the top Kanô painters during a moment when the school was actively reworking their synthesis of continental and native styles, Itchô’s mode broke new ground. His own amalgamation of Chinese/ Japanese and ancient / modern exemplified the aesthetic philosophy of the haikai poetry circles of Matsuo Bashô, fine-tuned through his experience as entertainer in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. In this album, Itchô gives a virtuoso multi-voiced performance composed of many moments of “awakening to the high, while returning to the low,” as Bashô’s epithet would have it. Itchô varied his artistic personas along with his artistic signatures, creating in effect a one-man visual haikai sequence. Accordingly, the viewer’s inner eye experiences a multi-pathed journey through the imagination. Miriam Wattles, Ph.D. (Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, 2004), is Associate Professor of Japanese Visual Culture at UC Santa Barbara. She has published articles on Edo-period books, art, and historiography. Her present research is on the materiality and migration of books on toba-e, giga, and manga, 1720-1928. Her book, The Life and Afterlives of Hanabusa Itchô, will be coming out Spring, 2013.