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This is Josetsu

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By Gwylym Owen

Josetsu (如拙, fl. 1405–1496) was one of the first suiboku (ink wash) style Zen Japanese painters in the Muromachi Period (15th century). He was probably along with a theoretical of Tenshō Shūbun at the Shōkoku-ji monastery in Kyoto. A Chinese immigrant, he was naturalised in 1370 and is known as “the daddy of Japanese ink painting”.

The best known of his paintings belongs to Taizō-in, a sub-temple of Myōshin-ji in Kyoto, which is entitled Catching a Catfish when a Gourd (c. 1413). It shows a comical-looking man fishing neighboring a background of a winding river and a bamboo grove. It is thought to have been inspired by a riddle set by the Ashikaga shōgun, “How attain you catch a catfish with a gourd?” It can be viewed as a fragment of Zen humour, or as a kōan in visual form intended to ignite the viewer into extra ways of “seeing”. Josetsu was an amazing figure in ink painting at that times of period and furthermore influenced many painters as well.

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