Sesson Shukei, about 1504-1589
Hatsuboku (Splashed Ink) Landscape
Ink on paper
A comparison of this work and the Kasuga
mandala in this gallery demonstrates how an ink monochrome painter's
approach to landscape differed from that of artists who worked
in the indigenous yamato-e style. Ink monochrome painters
relied on graded washes of sumi, the black ink used for
writing, and a repertoire of texture strokes, many derived from
calligraphy, to communicate a sense of the landscape.
Few ink monochrome landscapes represent
an actual location. They were generally imaginary. This is especially
the case with hatsuboku, or "splashed ink,"
landscapes, such as this work by Sesson. In hatsuboku
landscapes, the artists "play" with the ink as a form
of meditation or recreation. They usually began by "splashing"
the ink washes used to define mountains, hills and other landscape
elements, and then added the finer details (temples, boats, trees,
and people) in darker ink with quick, highly calligraphic strokes.