This exhibition, part of the UK-Japan Season of Culture, is the first ever of Taki Katei’s work outside Japan.
Born in Edo (today’s Tokyo) in 1830, Katei was one of the most successful artists of his generation and a master of the genre of bird-and-flower painting. In 1893, in recognition of his service to the imperial court, Katei was awarded the title 'Imperial Household Artist'. He produced a large body of work in various formats, including hanging scrolls, albums, sliding doors, ceiling paintings and folding screens. Some of his designs were made into lacquerwares and metalwork.
This exhibition examines Katei’s unparalleled ability to represent nature, landscape and most commonly, close-up views of birds and flowers. The works on show demonstrate his skill and creativity, while also revealing how centuries-old Chinese culture shaped his artistic vision. Visitors are transported to the artist’s studio and given a first-hand exposé of how he created his paintings. Invoking a serene atmosphere through his natural depictions of foliage, mountains, and winding river valleys, the exhibition invites visitors to view an assortment of drawings and paintings on silk.
Central to the exhibition is a consideration of Katei’s teaching activities. Separated into five themes, the exhibition looks at the hidden meanings and the symbolism that were prevalent in his works, the techniques he used, and his practice towards perfection. At first glance, his works seem modest, yet on further examination the visual sophistication becomes apparent.