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South Wind, Clear Sky (Gaifū Kaisei), Also Known as Red Fuji Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 20th, 2022

Introduction

The art by Katsushika Hokusai from Japan showcases Mount Fuji which is said to have a red-like at dawn in the early stages of autumn. The print is particularly referred to as Red Fuji which presents an uncompromising visionary element of the mountain in the absence of humans. The unique snow-capped Mount Fuji exemplifies an iconic spiritual perspective that focuses on religion. In the art, trees are seen reduced to tiny triangular shapes in green color that stretches along the mountain’s base.1 There is also a blue sky that contains a white paper-based outline of clouds to include the aesthetic value of Hokusai’s art. This paper explores the Red Fuji art and argues on the relevance of the art by the designer to society.

Hokusai’s print of decorated Mount Fuji2.
Figure 1. Hokusai’s print of decorated Mount Fuji2.
  • Title: South wind, clear sky (Gaifū Kaisei), also known as Red Fuji
  • Artist: Katsushika Hokusai
  • Date: ca. 1830-32
  • Medium: woodblock print, ink, and color on paper
  • Size: Oban 10 x 14 7/8 in. (25.4 x 37.8 cm)
  • Location: British Museum, Indianapolis museum of art

The Red Fuji art is one of the perfect artworks that show how people during the Edo period were gifted in designing objects. The way Hokusai design and printed the work shows efforts towards the interest in drawing and painting. The woodwork prints were carved so that fine presentation would be achieved. During the period, most artists used wood prints to draw and paint because of the availability of the material. Wood was considered durable if preserved in a nice environment, and most people used to embrace the style.3 It was efficient to paint the Red Fuji by utilizing wood prints to show the level of artistic designs used in early periods.

Additionally, it is interesting they the artist framed the colors. As seen in (fig1) above, the themes have several patterns that add to the aesthetic value of the object. Hokusai used a blue landscape on the major part of Red Fuji and supplemented it is using many more colors such as red and brown. The art shows a distinct phenomenon of exceptional clear mornings in all seasons.4 Hokusai’s combined southern wind and the clear sky would mean an outstanding print that was an indisputable masterpiece up to current moments.

Red Fuji is an example of artistic work that portrays an element of advanced skill in painting from the transfer of reality to illustrated view. The talented Hokusai depicts the iconic volcano from various angles for all seasons. Therefore, it is fine to say that she was an outstanding artist during the Edo period.5 Due to the obsession with art, Hokusai influenced other people, such as Utagawa Hiroshige during the ukiyo-e period, to create a beautiful landscape. To show how Red Fuji was admired, Hiroshige made a series of prints with the same title as those of Hokusai to illustrate the motivation in revealing the unique work in the original painting.

Interpretation of the Work

From the way Hokusai presented her work on Red Fuji, it is true to say that she was an early riser. Making more than 30 views of the mountains in different seasons is a skill that requires timely analysis and proper observation. Despite being an early riser, she was gifted in recording the appearance in her mind as she drew since the outcome resembled what Mount Fuji would in the series of different seasons. From the work of Hokusai, she was creative enough since the composition appears simple but more fascinating. The work looks modern, and it is almost near to abstraction even after being created nearly two centuries ago.6 Therefore, the distinct presentation would mean that Hokusai was visional since she considered that the art would be left for other generations.

The other possible interpretation of Red Fuji by Hokusai is that she was obsessed with the mountain. Perhaps she tried to influence other people to see the value of interest by painting it. Through the work, many conditions are visible, especially to the revelation of how seasons change with time. To some extent, Hokusai can be termed as artistic genius due to the close to being perfect on the presentation of Mount Fuji. A painting the image of the mountain for public sensitization, Hokusai needed to be a commercial artist for living.7 The reason is that many other people did the same job and perhaps similarly, and therefore, Hokusai needed to be a different person with a different style that would earn her a living.

Significance of Red Fuji/ How It Can Be Understood

There was spiritual communication that Hokusai wanted to make during the Edo period in her Red Fuji work. Mount Fuji was a spiritual landmark to Buddhists who alleged that there was special power associated with Buddha that the mountain had.8 Even when Hokusai painted the Red Fuji in her final days, she portrayed a dragon coming out of the sky in the object, which was a sign of powerful nature that was associated with the mountain. Being associated with most of the deities, the dragon made the lifelong faith for many Buddhists strong.

The other significance behind the Red Fuji painting was the relationship between life and the natural world. Hokusai focused on flora and fauna, which served as one way of appreciating the environment that human beings live. The act of drawing the object in the exact way it appears in various seasons was a gesture to show other people how life was relevant alongside beautiful landscapes, which would provide exploration during leisure times.9 The drawing of the volcano had deep spiritual meaning as the source of water and life. Through the work, the audience is symbolically meant to see how the supernatural being gave power to natural resources such as water which is fairly important in life.

Mount Fuji provided a spiritual essence to which the universe was configured. Human beings would find a rationale of the power of creation to justify the existence of powerful beings. Therefore, Hokusai was a talented artist who saw the power of art and skill in observation through her work. It is recommended for modern artists to embrace Hokusai by drawing objects with inner and outer meaning to consider current and future generations.

Bibliography

Arakawa, Ayumu. 2016. “Japanese History of The Psychology of Fine Arts and Aesthetics.” Japanese Psychological Research 58 (4): 56-69.

Korenberg, Capucine. 2019. On Physical Sciences. Web.

Vesco, Silvia. 2020. “An Analysis of Some Illustrated Books by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) In the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice”. 56 | 2020 8 (56): 12-21.

Footnotes

  1. Arakawa, Ayumu. 2016. “Japanese History of The Psychology of Fine Arts and Aesthetics.” P.57.
  2. Arakawa, Ayumu. 2016. “Japanese History of The Psychology of Fine Arts and Aesthetics.” P.56.
  3. Korenberg, Capucine. 2019. “How Did Hokusai Intend to Depict Mount Fuji? Determining the Sequence of Impressions of the ‘Red Fuji’ Japanese Woodblock Print – On Physical Sciences”. p.2.
  4. Korenberg, Capucine. 2019. “How Did Hokusai Intend to Depict Mount Fuji? Determining the Sequence of Impressions of the ‘Red Fuji’ Japanese Woodblock Print – On Physical Sciences”. p.1.
  5. Arakawa, Ayumu. 2016. “Japanese History of The Psychology of Fine Arts and Aesthetics pp.66-69.
  6. Vesco, Silvia. 2020. “An Analysis of Some Illustrated Books by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) In the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice”. pp.12-14.
  7. Arakawa, Ayumu. 2016. “Japanese History of The Psychology of Fine Arts and Aesthetics p.67.
  8. Vesco, Silvia. 2020. “An Analysis of Some Illustrated Books by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) In the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice”. pp.18.
  9. Arakawa, Ayumu. 2016. “Japanese History of The Psychology of Fine Arts and Aesthetics p.65.
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IvyPanda. "South Wind, Clear Sky (Gaifū Kaisei), Also Known as Red Fuji." July 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/south-wind-clear-sky-gaif-kaisei-also-known-as-red-fuji/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "South Wind, Clear Sky (Gaifū Kaisei), Also Known as Red Fuji." July 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/south-wind-clear-sky-gaif-kaisei-also-known-as-red-fuji/.

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