Art in New York. Bird with Flowering Branch Large Plate by Ruri Takeuchi.
Ruri Takeuchi’s imagination runs wild with the ancient history of counties from another world.
The Chinese lute or five-stringed biwa (Japanese lute) made of mother of pearl and rosewood, found in Nara’s Shōsōin, are treasures that she deems most valuable. On the back of either lute, there is an exquisite design of a bird holding a flowering branch.
The motif of a bird holding a flowering branch, which is as old as the Sasanian Empire in Persia, symbolizes good fortune and luck. The design illustrates an auspicious bird, such as the Chinese Phoenix or crane, holding a branch with flower blossoms.
Ruri Takeuchi’s Bird with Flowering Branch large plate aspires to this famed pattern and is one of her greatest works.
On the outer edge is an arabesque pattern painted with gold leaf; looking closely, chrysanthemums are placed evenly between the arabesque tendrils. Adjacent is an even more detailed shippou, interlocking rings pattern, in gold leaf. This is used to frame the full and saturated painting of a climbing rose in full bloom and three green parrots.
Each vibrant leaf is delicately drawn, coated in layers of paint with a hint of brown at the tip of the leaf. The rose petals are a beautiful and elegant pale pink; the stamen and pistil are painted yellow. Its entirety was carefully outlined with a thin brush, then filled with colors. The paint never deviates from the outline and there are no outlined spaces left blank to be found. The layers of paint create a raised texture that uses deep and light colors for shading. The reverse side is painted with the gold pattern and a climbing rose. Five rings of the gold painted motif reach toward the inner foot of the dish and written in the middle are the characters “瑠璃” (Ruri).
The feathers of the green parrots with round bead eyes were painted with multiple layers of fine thin strokes and fired in the kiln after each layer; it was fired four times. A near realistic depiction and texture of bird feathers, one-by-one, among the layers of paint and infinite number of strokes, the luster disappears to reveal a sparkling brightness and movement.
At a simple glance, one would ask exactly what color is being used for this parrot? From the base of its beak to its cheeks is a faint blue-green color, then a deep blue-green, lime green and brown is used to show the overlapping feathers. No outlines are drawn and filled in for the feathers, emphasizing the contrast when surrounding the climbing rose.
What makes this Bird with Flowering Branch pattern Ruri’s own is that the birds are not holding the branch. It is as if it were a riddle for those who see and understand the pattern and her design.
While looking at this piece, my thoughts are also swept into the ancient times of a country from another world.