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5 good reasons to go and see the Jakuchū exhibition

Five reasons to persuade you to go and see this remarkable exhibition, which is only on for one month.

A great treat for Parisians. From September 15 to October 14, the 30 scrolls of Itō Jakuchū's series The Colourful Realm of Living Beings (Dōshokusai-e) are being presented in their entirety at the Petit Palais.

Jakuchū’s incredibly delicate silk paintings are extraordinary masterpieces. Their technical mastery and the vivid brilliance of the succession of living beings he depicts are absolutely fascinating.

Not surprisingly, the exhibition is already enjoying considerable success with the Parisian public.

Need more convincing?  Here are 5 reasons to inspire you and your nearest and dearest to go and see the amazing Colourful Realm of Living Beings.


Petit Palais, musée des Beaux-arts de la Ville de Paris

Avenue Winston Churchill
75008 Paris

1] Because the exhibition is only on for thirty days

Paon blanc

Because of their extreme fragility the 30 hanging silk scrolls will be on show for only 30 days, from 15 September to 14 October 2018. It took a full six years of restoration work to return The Colourful Realm of Living Beings to its original splendour.

2] This is the first time in Europe

Paon blanc avec des coeurs

Jakuchū's works are not only fragile, but they are also very rare.

Thanks to an exceptional loan from Japan’s Imperial Collection, the series of hanging silk scroll paintings The Colourful Realm of Living Beings has left the Museum of the Imperial Collections in Tokyo for one month in order to be exhibited in Europe for the first time.
This is a unique and significant event considering that, in 2016, the Jakuchū exhibition in Tokyo broke all previous attendance records with 450,000 visitors in one month.

3] Because the exhibition will appeal to lovers of nature…


You will see at first glance, the moment you set foot in the exhibition, that Jakuchū's ambition was to express all the purity, the beauty and the life force of the plants, birds, insects, reptiles and fish that inhabit the natural world.

It was this vividness and vibrancy that Jakuchū set out to depict in his Colourful Realm of Living Beings. His large silk scrolls reveal a detailed observation of everything in nature, and this has made him recognised as an outstanding painter "from nature".

4] But also to people who can admire his masterful technique


Aya Ōta, curator of the exhibition said, " The strange charm that attracts spectators - of all ages - to these paintings can probably be explained by this expression of beauty and the exuberance of the forms of living things (...) and that charm touches the sensibility of people who look at his work...” If the spectator is immediately captivated by the beauty of the paintings, a closer look at the scrolls will reveal the formidable techniques used by the artist.

Jakuchū used a technique of "reverse coloring" (urazaishiki) which consisted in applying colours to the reverse side of the silk, which had a transparency similar to that of gauze. In addition, he would colour the obverse of the silk to give an effect of thickness on the painted surfaces while at the same time obtaining softer colours.
To capture the brightness of the colours, Jakuchū used colouring materials obtained from ground pigments or from crushing minerals or shells to powder. Similarly, when his work required it, he created glue out of skin, bones, tendons and even gut from animals.

The artist used other techniques from the traditional schools of painting, such as not outlining patterns, blurring, inverted gradation, applying a layer of colours to a wet surface... all these techniques are combined in the 30 hanging scrolls.

5] Because Jakuchū is a particularly popular artist


For several years now, there has been considerable interest in Jakuchū. In addition to the exhibition held in Tokyo in 2016, the National Gallery of Art in Washington exhibited the 30 scrolls in 2012 at an exceptional exhibition that attracted more than 300,000 visitors in four weeks. Holland Cotter, art critic for the New York Times, described it as one of the most beautiful exhibitions he had ever seen.

In France, the first press reports of the exhibition at the Petit Palais were very positive.

A very good start to the "Japanismes 2018" season as we await the other artistic events to celebrate the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and France.