Rachel Cohen

Korin

Folding Screen

Folding Screen

Ogata Korin, Cranes and Pines, mid-17th century.


I had a thought last week at the Metropolitan Museum's Poetry of Nature exhibit of Edo Paintings.  A most basic, untutored thought, but of interest to me.  Standing before a folding screen, on which was mounted Cranes and Pines, a work in ink and light color by Ogata Kōrin (1658-1716).  That a screen is a stylized geometry of the effects of landscape.  The sense one has, looking, that a curve of trees comes forward, that water both widens and recedes to the distance.  These effects are considered and commented upon by the angled folds of a screen.  It seems interesting that the experience, which, when I noticed it, felt like an austere version of the repose felt in pausing in a particularly beautiful moment outdoors, is uncapturable by photograph.


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We are here, at the place we come to once a year, in the summer.  I am sitting outside on the worn porch by the little harbor where the moored boats turn to align with the wind.  On the surface of the water the oddly abstract patterns of curved lines.  The other night, we sat out to watch the Perseids fall in the sky.  A heron was fishing off the end of a small jetty.  We would not have seen it, but there was a dusky orange light set to come on periodically and then the bird appeared in sharp dark outline with the fish below the surface scattering away from its pointed beak.      


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