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Vol. 3, No. 1 (Autumn 2012) Published on November 1st, 2012
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Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer 2010) Contents
Bericht uit Tokyo Rien ne va plus
Column by Bas Valckx
Verschuivende perspectieven
Article by Willem van Gulik
Cha Zen ichi mi
Calligraphy by Arthur Witteveen
Priests, money and women: religion in Seji kenbunroku
Article by Mark Teeuwen
Het verhaal van de zwerfhond
Article by Frans B. Verwayen
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Verschuivende perspectieven

Article by Willem van Gulik

Abstract

‘SHIFTING PERSPECTIVES’[1] presents an overview of the use of perspective in Japanese and, more generally, in East Asian art. We begin with the Japanese painter Kawahara Keiga, who made a great number of paintings at the request of Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866). Most of his paintings are in full colour, but he was also a master of the genre of monochrome ink-paintings (suibokuga). It was a style of painting that had become popular in Japan under the influence of Zen Buddhism, and was fully assimilated in the fifteenth century, with painters such as Sesshū Tōyō (1420-1506).
        One of the characteristics of this type of art was the ‘shifting perspective,’ i.e., the combination of different perspectives that we find in vertical Chinese landscape paintings (kakejiku): the viewer looks down on the lower part, which is close, and looks up to the higher part, which represents the far mountain peaks. The illusion of depth is created through the shifting points of view.
        A different application of multiple perspectives is found in the illustrated scrolls (emaki), in which one follows the painting as one rolls out the scroll from right to left. One sees a succession of ‘frames,’ never the whole picture at once. The perspective applied in the individual scenes on a scroll is diagonal: the eye follows a line from the underside left to the topside right, looking deeper and deeper into the scene. Often this is combined with a ‘bird’s eye perspective” from which one looks from above inside the building in which the scene is set.
        The European linear perspective with its central vanishing point became known in Japan through the students of Dutch learning (Rangaku). Experiments with this perspective were undertaken by Shiba Kōkan (1747-1818). In the same period, many optical prints were made, which had to be looked at through a combination of lens and mirror (another European invention) in order to see depth.

Inleiding

Een ieder die een bezoek brengt aan het enkele jaren geleden nieuw geopende Sieboldhuis te Leiden, zal reeds bij het betreden van de eerste grote zaal, op de begane grond, getroffen worden door de indrukwekkende hoeveelheid Japanse voorwerpen van kunst en kunstnijverheid die massaal in de aaneengesloten vitrines en in het halfduister langs de wanden staan opgetast, tot hoog aan het plafond. Deze Panoramakamer zal op eerste gezicht doen denken aan de rariteitenkabinetten van weleer, waarin artefacten samen met voortbrengselen van de natuur door particulieren als curiositeiten werden verzameld, bewaard en tentoongesteld ter lering ende vermaak van hun bewonderende gasten.
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