Nearly all of the designs on traditional byōbu folding screens take nature as their theme. By contrast, according to Yoshihiro Takishita, the majority of Western paintings focus on the human figure. Byōbu art also leaves generous areas of empty space on the panels, an effect that further enhances their attractiveness as interior decor that never tires the eye.
Painting genres and techniques also vary widely: Byōbu may display anything from a finely detailed rendering of a festival procession to a single wild boar rampaging across the entire screen — or a number of small paintings on separate sheets may be pasted onto a single panel.
Takishita chooses byōbu of diverse designs for his rooms, based on such considerations as the function and atmosphere of each space.
In a parlor where people take afternoon tea, for example, he will place a screen illustrated with an interesting subject that is likely to stimulate conversation. Several of his byōbu are decorated with seasonal flowering plants, and just as people arrange flowers in season, he replaces one screen with another over the course of the year.
This is the third installment in a four-part series on architect Yoshihiro Takishita’s antique byōbu collection.