Continuity in the paintings of Kimura Kenkado
37 , 2016-04-01 , 関西大学東西学術研究所
The paintings of Kimura Kenkado（1736‒1802） were influenced by a variety of both Japanese and Chinese artists, and his work from his earliest days to his final years can be thought of as an ongoing research project. It is clear that its core was formed by the teachings of his mentor, Ike no Taiga, but even in his later years there is no sense that he had gradually arrived at an established style; his whole life as an artist seems to have been a series of experiments powered by his boundless curiosity. Unfortunately, since almost none of Kenkado’s skilled works from his 40s and 50s have been found, there are difficulties in reaching an understanding of his mature work. In the first phase of his career as a painter Kenkado was directly influenced by his teachers, Kakutei （1722‒85）, Ike no Taiga（1723‒1776）, and Yanagisawa Kien（1703‒1758）, and through a process of trial and error, he built up a body of work steeped in the sensibility of literati painting (bunjinga). We may conclude that during this time he studied the works of many Chinese painters and engaged in a broad range of artistic production. The influence of Kakutei and Taiga appears to have remained with him all his life, but in his later years he also produced a body of works that give us a glimpse of his interactions with other artists, such as Ito Jakuchu（1703‒1758） and So Shisek（1715‒1786）. Particularly noteworthy is the major advance toward a naturalistic painterly technique that Kenkado achieved in his later years, from the Kansei period (1789‒1801) onward, as he developed a strong interest, not only in So Shiseki, but more broadly in the Shen Quan（沈銓1682‒1760） and Nagasaki schools. In other words, at least as far as the Shen Quan mode of realism is concerned, Kenkado’s realistic, or perhaps we should say naturalistic, technique reached a certain level of maturity quite different from that of his youth. In short, even with regard to his tasteful minor works of the bunjinga genre, it would be unjust to label Kenkado as an amateur or dilettante painter.