Ferocious tiger, 2022.
64 x 43 cm. Gouache, coloured pencil and Akashiya Sai watercolour brush pens on Fabriano 200 g watercolour paper. Including Frame: 50 x 70 cm, Barth, antireflective and uvprotective. Please make an appointment for pick up or delivery.
Just before midnight and the calendar change to 2023, the Fericious tiger gazes into the world. 2022: year of the tiger.
In 2022 it was the year of the tiger, in which Japan follows the Chinese astrological system which is dived into twelve signs (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig).
In this painting I used a variety of materials to create texture and depth. The majority of this work is painted with gouache, while details were executed with coloured pencil, Japanese Akashiya sai watercolour brush pens and ink brush pen.
Animals in Japanese painting
Animals are a recurring subject in Japanese paintings. Magnificent images of a broad range of creatures are produced as kakemono (scrolls) on silk and paper. From oxen and toads in Zen paintings, to more elegant manifestations of natural life such as cranes, tigers, deer, crows and monkeys. The format of this painting, - a vertical and narrow composition – is a reference to this tradition.
Japanese animal paintings are not just visual representations of the natural world, but were often fashioned for a certain audience and imbued with symbolism, references to the seasons and moralistic or religious themes. Animals were ascribed human inclinations or virtues which developed over time into iconographic traditions.
The twelve animals of the zodiac (rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, boar) are a recurring theme. Each animal has certain characteristics attributed to its nature.
Tigers in Japanese art
The majestic tiger is represented as a fierce animal and was the favoured subject of Kishi-school painters who were patronized by the Daimyō of the 18th and 19th century. Tigers are not indigenous to Japan, and therefore their rendition was often far from naturalistic. Tigers were depicted alone, or together with a dragon to make up the two forces of the universe: earth and heaven.
Depictions of tigers, across all mediums from woodblock prints to folding screens and hanging scrolls, are often accompanied by bamboo. Bamboo is strong and resilient.
Ferocious tigers, symbols of power. Coupled with a gold background, referencing the Kano school and Rinpa aesthetic that both consistently used gold to create striking contrasts and a powerful sense of elegance and grandeur, this ferocious tiger is not to back down anytime soon.