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An ink painting by Sesshū Tōyō. It shows a house in the middle of a mountain forest.

Daily Helping for January 18th, 2023 – Sesshū Tōyō

I recently read a book about Japan. And while I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed it, I did very much enjoy the fact that it mentioned dozens of Japanese artists that I had never heard of before. So naturally, I decided to look into them further. Which is how I discovered the work of Sesshū Tōyō, widely regarded as one of Japan’s greatest painters of all time. And I can see why.

But first, a quick intro. Sesshū Tōyō was a 15th century Zen-Shu priest who is known today for his suibokuga paintings, meaning water and ink. He was primarily known for his beautiful black ink paintings of landscapes and nature. Now, full disclosure. I know exactly nothing about 15th century Japanese paintings. But according to Google, Sesshū Tōyō is so renowned because he managed to fuse Chinese and Japanese influences of ink painting to create a technique and style entirely his own. In fact, several schools of art later appointed him as their founder due to his enormous influence on the medium as a whole. Impressive!

Personally, I love his works. They are not flashy or ornate. But like almost everything in Japan, there is a simple elegance to them that radiates calm and tranquility. Which is sometimes all that you want first thing in the morning.


Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!