For years Japanese Ink Painting continued to be consistent with a basis on nature, and simplicity. Was the beginning of Minimalism in Japan? Was it intentional? The open composition of space and content on paper is a key of today’s design. The simplicity of monochromatic work is still appreciated in almost every art form.
This is a contrast to the Renaissance that occurred during the same time period. There was never work similar in Europe, it was mostly elaborate and colorful. This proves that the Asian styles are the origin of minimalism.
Even in architecture and landscape, there was interpretation and consistence of nature. The “Zen Garden” is a key concept that has lasted through the years. The Japanese styles of architecture were inspired by the consistency and simplicity of nature. They were the first to incorporate outside and inside, using a lot of patio space, and open surfaces, using round posts, and hinged translucent walls (Japan, 229).
The dominant styles of the Muromachi Period, Ink Painting, Landscape, and Architecture, are visible in today’s society in all cultures. Design fields incorporate the same appreciation that the Zen Buddhists did. Aesthetics, the set of principles of good taste and the appreciation on beauty, especially in the philosophy of art (Reader’s, 26).
During the Muromachi Period, Sesshu (1420-1506) was known as the most famous artist in his medium of Ink Paintings. He was a monk that dedicated his life to painting. He traveled to areas of China and the natural landscape inspired his work heavily. He denied any influence from the Chinese art he saw on his journey. Like the work of Ni Zan (1308-1374), a Chinese Yuan Dynasty ink painter. (History, 842-861)
Sesshu’s most noted work was the “Winter Landscape.” This painting was done after his excursion through China, in the 1467. It is 18.25 x 11.5” in size, and was produced by rushing black ink on a paper. It is overlapped view of a landscape in the foreground, with large mountainous cliff...
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...on of the arts really polluted all meaning behind it. This is a dramatic time in which the true Zen Monks doubted their faith in the work they produced. The understanding of this, left room for sarcasm, and criticism, and eventually dilution of the Zen theories of nature and serenity.
Put aside the debauchery of the art, this period has influenced so many cultures and design styles. It is key that styles like minimalism and even constructivism trace back to the monochromatic layout of image and text these monks produced.
Being a designer, it is astonishing to relate styles that I apply to work with these simple Buddhists. They lived a simple lifestyle, appreciating materials and imagery that both were provided by nature. The aesthetics applied is an important way of expressing yourself as a citizen of the world.
It is important that we as people seek to make the world better for mankind. Appreciating the elements, and applying workable solutions was a key contribution these monks made to society. Whether it is through our work or our deeds, it would be ideal that we all follow their example.
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