The Japanese people, at the extreme southern end of the Palace of Fine Arts, have a representative show of painted screens, of extraordinary beauty. Anyone, without being in the least familiar with the fauna and flora of Japan, must admire the tremendously acute power of observation and surety of drawing which made these designs possible. The two sixfold screens by Taisei Minakami on the east wall of the eastern gallery are probably the most magnificently daring examples of modern Japanese art. To the student of design they offer a most stimulating opportunity for study. Acutely observed, their tropical subjects, very daring in colour, are exhaustively beautiful. The spacing of the design, the relative distribution of the few daring colours against a gold background of wonderful texture, combine in a picture of great vitality. The art of no people is so scientific as that of these people, whose every effort, no matter how insignificant, is technically always sound. Our modern art schools could very profitably imitate the Japanese principle of teaching their young students how to do a thing well and of leaving the choice of subjects to their own inclination.
Almost opposite, a vertical composition of a lumber camp on a mountainside, by Bunto Hayashi, attracts by an unusual subject very descriptively rendered. The picture belongs to the older school, not so much for the lack of colour, which is often erroneously identified with the older Japanese works, as for a certain quality of less decoration and of more detailed treatment of the drawing. The drawing is, of course, the important element in all Japanese art, since all of their work has to yield a great deal of pleasure of the intellectual kind at close distance, on account of the smallness of Japanese dwellings, which keeps the owner of the picture in close proximity with his artistic possessions. A picture of crows in a rainstorm, on the same wall, on the right side of the southern door, and also a very characteristic study of some kind of cedar, with birds on the left of it, give one an excellent idea of the astonishing variety of material that the Japanese artist successfully controls.
In two irregularly shaped triangular galleries adjoining, Shodo Hirata maintains the standard of the first gallery, not to forget, either, Toyen Oka with his oleander bush and the cat on the picturesque fence. Tesshu Okajima’s hollyhock screens are marvels of decorative simplicity, while Kangai Takakura uses a washday as a motive for a double twofold screen decoration. The last two artists can both be found in the second irregular triangular gallery, opposite the first one mentioned. The central octagonal gallery also is devoted to screen pictures, done by means of embroidery. Some of them, largely those of native design, are successful in really giving the quality of the subjects depicted, but cannot grow enthusiastic over two unduly