Viewing Empty Mountains

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Originally noted more for his poetry than his painting, Kodojin set the tone for his landscapes through his inscriptions. Self-taught in painting, the eccentric poet-painter created landscapes in a variety of unusual styles. (Paul Berry, Literati Modern, p. 152).

The poem inscribed on this painting was first published in 1912 as one of a set of four poems in Kodojin’s verse collection, Seisho’s Mountain Studio Collection.

Only white clouds moving.
My spirit returns to a point of ease.
Transcendent beyond failure or success.
Sitting alone
viewing the empty mountains.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Old Taoist: The Life, Art, and Poetry of Kodojin (1865-1944) by Stephen Addiss, Jonathan Chaves, J. Thomas Rimer

In the literary and artistic milieu of early modern Japan the Chinese and Japanese arts flourished side by side. Kodôjin, the “Old Taoist” (1865-1944), was the last of these great poet-painters in Japan. Under the support of various patrons, he composed a number of Taoist-influenced Chinese and Japanese poems and did lively and delightful ink paintings, continuing the tradition of the poet-sage who devotes himself to study of the ancients, lives quietly and modestly, and creates art primarily for himself and his friends.

Portraying this last representative of a tradition of gentle and refined artistry in the midst of a society that valued economic growth and national achievement above all, this beautifully illustrated book brings together 150 of Kodôjin’s Chinese poems (introduced and translated by Jonathan Chaves), more than 100 of his haiku and tanka (introduced and translated by Stephen Addiss), and many examples of his calligraphy and ink paintings. Addiss’s in-depth introduction details the importance of the poet-painter tradition, outlines the life of Kodôjin, and offers a critical appraisal of his work, while J. Thomas Rimer’s essay puts the literary work of the Old Taoist in context.

 

Fukuda Kodojin (1865-1944)
Landscape painting

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