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1 / Converging Cultures

Chi Kan Jo (Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment)
Chi Kan Jo (Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment)
Artist / Origin Kuroda Seiki (Japanese, 1866–1924)
Region: East Asia
Date 1897–1900
Material Oil on canvas
Medium: Painting
Dimensions H: 70 4/5 in. (180 cm.), W: 39 1/5 in. (99.8 cm.)
Location Kuroda Memorial Hall, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, Japan
Credit Courtesy of National Research Institute of Cultural Properties, Tokyo, Japan

expert perspective

Julie Nelson DavisAssociate Professor of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania

Chi Kan Jo (Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment)

» Kuroda Seiki (Japanese, 1866–1924)

expert perspective

Julie Nelson Davis Julie Nelson Davis Associate Professor of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania

Clearly the cultural convergences over time have had an impact on artistic innovation. In the case of Western style painting in late nineteenth-century Japan, we have a number of artists who go to Paris to learn new styles. One of these, Kuroda Seiki, studied with a painter named Raphael Collin. Kuroda went and studied with him and he himself learned the techniques of oil painting. He also learned the practices that were typical in studios at the time—of drawing from life, of drawing from plaster models: drawing as being the basis of representation. And he brings that back to Japan and he teaches people in Japan that this is the new mode of Western painting. He exhibits a painting he made in Paris showing a woman standing before a mirror, a painting called Morning Toilette.

In 1895, he displays a painting and the government decides that this is an inappropriate painting for the population to see because it includes a nude figure. He didn’t take that as a moment to say, ‘I’m not going to do it anymore.’ I think he wanted to show the world that Japan was capable of being a modern nation state. And one of the ways to do that was to show that he was as skilled in making a painting as any French artist. And, again, he returned to the nude, a topic that really was outside of a Japanese context, but one in which he’s now using it as a new vehicle for his own expression. In this painting, Wisdom, Impression, and Sentiment, he chose three nude figures, female figures, standing upright. He’s combining a Western subject and a Western three-dimensional rendering practice with this contour line that comes from a Buddhist practice. He then creates the background for these figures using gold paint to suggest something like the background of a gold, traditional gold screen.” 

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