Kawanabe Kyosai
Japanese, 1831-1889
Collected by a major museum
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Often monikered the Demon of Painting—or Shuchu Gaki—Japanese artist Kawanabe Kyosai was famous for assaults on other artists, excessive drinking, political satires for which he was imprisoned, and most importantly, his accomplishments as a painter. The son of a samurai, Kyosai began studying traditional Japanese painting methods at the age of six, learning from the ukiyo-e master Utagawa Kuniyoshi and moving on to study at the Kano school. Throughout Kyosai’s career, Japan underwent radical modernization; in his paintings, he portrayed and satirized the decline of the Edo period and instatement of the Meiji regime, and parodied the Japanese adoption of Western styles (he was a strict nationalist despite his awareness of Western art.) Known to paint vigorously with a full brush, Kyosai’s namesake “demon paintings” depicted monsters and diabolical creates in fantastical, exaggerated menageries.

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