At this moment, the Kyoto National Museum is showcasing some extraordinarily breathtaking work. Three sets of "Wind God" and "Thunder God" screens by three major Rinpa (also known as Rimpa) artists are being displayed together in the same location for the first time in 75 years. And where else but in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital and the birthplace of the Rinpa school of painting.
This special exhibition, celebrating the school's 400th anniversary, showcases a selection of historically significant paintings and objects including lacquerware, ceramics and textiles.
The "Wind God" and "Thunder God" screens are seminal paintings that reveal how the Rinpa aesthetic was passed down from its beginnings through to the Edo Period (1603-1868). The first, a designated National Treasure, is attributed to Tawaraya Sotatsu (active in the early 1600s). About a century later, Ogata Korin (1658-1716) replicated and reworked Sotatsu's piece, creating a screen that is now an Important Cultural Property. Korin's version was also replicated by Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828) another 100 years later. Since there was no official master and pupil relationship in the Rinpa school, these three sets of screens, painted years apart, reveal how copying the work of previous generations functioned as a way to pass down and teach Rinpa style and painting practice.