Friday, November 8, 2019

Yōga Painting

Old Woman (1908) Wada Eisaku
At various stages of Japan's history, artists have been interested in trying out European approaches to shading, perspective, and color.

Flower basket of Takahashi, 1879
After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Western style became known as Yōga painting, distinguished from Nihonga painting, which is a more traditional Japanese approach.

Shoemaker by Harada Naojiro (1863-1899)
According to The Art Story, "These new techniques introduced the employment of perspective, a push toward oil painting, lithography, pastels, watercolors, sketching, and the practice of plein air painting, and the incorporation of decidedly Western motifs and subjects."
Yōga painting on Wikipedia (in German)
Previous post on Nihonga painting


Jim Douglas said...

So wonderful to see artists borrow from other artists. What better way to see the common humanity shared by us all.

Mario said...

Slightly off-topic, but a fascinating mix of western and eastern (chinese, in this case) art can be found in the works by Giuseppe Castiglione:

Aljosa said...

James, do you know why they call it "Yōga" painting?

Andra said...

The kanji for this word is interesting - first kanji means foreign, Western style, second one means picture, third one means expert, performer.
I'm planning a trip to Japan, so am trying to learn some Japanese, hence the interest.

Aljosa said...

@Andra, thank you. That explains it.

Fern said...

I don't usually have anything helpful to add on to this wonderful blog, but I do know Japanese, so I thought I'd share some information about the term yōga.

Yōga is a combination of two characters (洋画).

The first is 洋, which literally means "ocean" but is used as a term for things from across the ocean, things that are western. For example, yōfuku (洋服) means "western clothes" like party dresses (as opposed to kimono), and yōgashi (洋菓子) means "western sweets" like cake (as opposed to traditional sweets like mochi).
The second character is 画, which means "picture". You see it in words like eiga (映画), "movie", and manga (漫画), "comic book". Nihonga (which Mr. Gurney mentioned in a previous post) is the word nihon (日本), "Japan", combined with 画: "Japanese paintings".

In casual Japanese conversation, the term "yōga" is usually short for "yōeiga"-- western movies. But to the artist it refers to paintings in western style using western media, created by Japanese artists. (An artist of the yōga style is called a "yōgaka", 洋画家.) If anyone is interested, here's the wiki on yōga in Japanese. Most of the page is dedicated to a list of notable yōga painters.洋画家

James Gurney said...

Wonderful explanation. Thanks Fern!