Lippit, Yukio, Japanese Zen Buddhism and the Impossible Painting. Los Angeles: The Getty Research Institute, 2017. Pp. viii + 50. $ 15.00 paper.Later this year, Kyoto National Museum will hold its 120th Anniversary Commemorative Special Exhibition of National Treasures, which will include around two hundred Japanese masterpieces. Among those treasures will be a painting titled The Gourd and the Catfish by Taikō Josetsu, a Zen monk who was active during the Muromachi period (1336–1573). Museum visitors trying to understand the painting, as well as readers, will be very grateful, if they come across Japanese Zen Buddhism and the Impossible Painting, a new book by Yukio Lippit, professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, who presents a guide to this work.Josetsu’s painting features a man standing on a winding riverbank, holding a gourd in both hands and attempting to capture or pin down a catfish swimming in the stream. The shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi set a riddle that is thought to have inspired the image: “How do you catch a catfish with a gourd?” Lippit’s book examines the painting’s subject matter, innovative technique, manner of display, and literary and artistic responses to it. It concludes that the painting mobilizes
Religion and the Arts – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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