Sunday, January 12, 2014

Two Carp Leaping Among Waves

To continue the story of the two carps, this painting was once a screen. (It is 135 cm x 126 cm)  A single standing screen on two horizontal legs, placed before the entrance of an official residence or temple, this was to stop any evil spirit from taking a straight path into the temple  It had been brought in for repair with another scroll which was repaired, sadly the client could not afford to pay for both jobs ;) so LS acquired  it. For 10 years it lay rolled up in the studio unrepaired in two sections until one day it came down from the mezzenine and was at last given some notice.. And  indeed it is a very beautiful and peaceful scene as it hangs on the wall, something to contemplate and meditate upon.

The first thing you notice about it is the fine sprinkled gold, and there is an art to this.  Firstly the paper must be 'sized' that is hardened so that inks will not run.  The sizing is done by applying alum and an animal glue to the surface to make the paper resilient - European papers were rollered with stone.  Then a seaweed, very light glue, is applied to the paper.  The gold is sprinkled, sometimes by a bamboo tube with a sieve at the end, several sizes of course and gold leaf can also be cut to shapes as well.  The gold lands on the surface and stands proud of it, here you must wait whilst the seaweed paste loses it gloss and then very carefully place a paper on top and press down the gold.
Of course this operation must always be done first thing in the morning on a still day, the dust has settled from the night before and is yet to be disturbed by the movement of the household.
Its paper detail, attributes it to circa 1790-1830 (mid late Edo period) by Tsukioka Shuei and its Sessai (seal) says that its painter was born in Osaka and was the son and pupil of Tsukioka Settei.  Firstly he received the rank of hokkyo and then of hogen. A competent artist so it says who painted in the style of his father.  Japanese studios are very traditional, and are family based, the work on any scroll can be done by several people.  This screen could for instance have been designed for an educational building because leaping golden carps came to represent 'good wishes for someone's educational success'

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