Manifestations of cultural hybridity in Yosa Buson's Bunjinga: interpretations of eighteenth-century Japanese paintings
Mintz, Robert (Robert Michael)
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This dissertation examines Yosa Buson's (1716--1783) dated paintings of the literati style. Buson's paintings act a visual record of the cultural hybridity the artist gradually developed through his embrace of Chinese and Japanese traditions of representation. Through a juxtaposition of biographical accounts of Buson's life and close visual studies of his dated works, the hybrid nature of the paintings becomes evident. This hybridity has implications for how these works enhance our understanding of eighteenth-century Japanese urban Sinophiles as they embraced Chinese precedents and altered them to suit their individual interests and idiosyncrasies.Japanese scholars' examinations of the many recorded events of Buson's life emerge both within the research dedicated to the artist's painting and his poetry. Combing through these accounts introduced in chapter one, a richly detailed narrative of Buson's life emerges. In chapter two the events of Buson's youth and early years as a painter (1716--1750) are detailed to provide a framework for understanding the many elements contributing to his earliest paintings. Chapter three examines these paintings in detail to enumerate the ways in which the young artist absorbed and appropriated imagery from his surroundings.Chapters four and five provide further biographical information showing Buson's having closely studied Chinese paintings in a focused manner. His paintings from this period are assessed in chapter six to reveal how Buson appropriated images and recombined them to form novel compositions. Chapter seven explores the last period of Buson's life (1771--1783). It is during this period that his works exhibit a fully internalized hybridity as they retain links to Chinese and Japanese painting traditions, and inspire a new generation of Japanese painters through their visual impact. Through juxtaposition of Buson's images and records of his life, it is possible to see his artistic activities shift from imitative, to appropriative, and finally to unified, novel expressions of the artist's individual conceptions of the world. In these last expressions, Buson's hybrid works emerges from his explorations of both native Japanese painting styles and Chinese styles as represented by imported works he had seen.
- Fine arts