Art: Japanese Master

In what amounts to a major shift in Japanese national taste, an almost forgotten Confucian scholar named Tomioka Tessai, who died in 1924 at the age of 88, is emerging as Japan's most popular painter since the Ukiyo-e masters of the 17th and 18th centuries. What makes his sudden rise to fame so surprising is that Tessai's work boldly departs from the polish and finish of Japan's professional, court-painting tradition. Instead, he used a rough, impulsive brushwork that often seems closer to the West than to the Orient.

The Japanese public's enthusiasm for Tessai's...

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