Alain BONNEFOIT (1937)
Mixed media (Sumi-e) on paper counter-glued onto panel, signed and dated lower right, titled on verso.
The Sumi-e 墨絵 ,meaning “painting with ink” or suibokuga (“image with water and ink”) was a Japanese painting movement that originated in China and dominated the Muromachi period. This style was characterized by the use of black ink wash, the predominance of the landscape as a subject and close ties with Buddhism philosophy. From China, this wash technique appeared in Japan around the 8th century. It then became the main painting approach during the Muromachi under the influence of Zen, with famous landscapes rendered in wash during China’s Song dynasty and great masters like Josetsu, Tenshō Shūbunn and Sesshū Tōyō. The Sumi-e painter modified the dilution of the ink, the position of the brush, strength and speed to play with the thickness and sharpness of the lines as well as the grayscale. Sumi-e lost its popularity at the end of the Muromachi period, which marked the return of the genre painting with vivid colors. However, Sumi-e’s influences are evident in the style of different painters from the Kanō school as well as Bunjinga, which revived monochrome in the 18th century. Today, paint wash, which gave some of the most acclaimed works among the Japanese arts, is very intimately associated with the refined culture of Muromachi. It all borrows from Zen Buddhism, as well as the tea ceremony, Noh , Japanese rock gardens and Ikeban.
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