Sōtatsu: Making Waves

Dragon and Tiger

Dragon and TigerDragon and TigerImamura Shikō greatly admired Sōtatsu. When scholar Okakura Kakuzō (1863–1913) asked with which historical figure he most identified, Imamura replied “Sōtatsu.” This was in 1907 when Sōtatsu was barely known, making his answer all the more remarkable.

Imamura developed a brightly translucent method of coloration. His paintings of these Sōtatsu-like subjects were not an obvious homage. Yet the unlikely colors of green applied to the dragon and white to the tiger seem to be humorous nods to Sōtatsu’s famed The Gods of Wind and Thunder. He constantly experimented with ways to reinvigorate and improve the nihonga painting style. He successfully combined elements of impressionism and the Japanese Nanga style, an interpretation of Chinese literati painting modes. Unfortunately, his promise would remain unfulfilled as he passed away in 1916 at the age of thirty-five.

Dragon and Tiger
Imamura Shikō (1880–1916)
Japan, 1913
Pair of hanging scrolls
The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama

<< Back to Rediscovery