About the Art
Matsuno Sôfû specialized in Noh artwork. Noh is often based on tales from traditional literature with a supernatural being transformed into human form as a hero narrating a story. Noh integrates masks, costumes and various props in a dance-based performance, requiring highly trained actors and musicians. Emotions are primarily conveyed by stylized conventional gestures while the iconic masks represent the roles such as ghosts, women, children, and the elderly. Sôfû painted many stages for these performances and made paintings of certain performances. Matsuno Sôfû was born in 1899 in Shitaya in working class Tokyo, he dropped out of school at an early age to study and practice art. Today he is considered one of the greatest Noh artists of all time.
This piece shows his amazing technical skill and line-work. Izutsu is based on an old story, Tsutsu-Izutsu, from the Ise monogatari, a 10th-century collection of stories, many of which are based on stories about the romantic encounters of a “certain man”, traditionally identified as the poet Ariwara no Narihira. In this specific story two children grow up together and eventually fall in love. The wooden frame is that of a well from their childhood and the man uses it to show how much he has grown into a man. The woman compared their absence to each other in how long her hair now was and asked if he would be the one to tie it up for her, after that they were married. This piece shows the beauty of nostalgia that can blossom any love and Sôfû skillfully portrays that in this work.
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