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Journal for Geometry and Graphics 11 (2007), No. 1, 093--103
Copyright Heldermann Verlag 2007

Distortion in Pictorial Scenes on Japanese Fans

Kazuko Mende
Dept. of Science of Arts, Joshibi University of Art and Design, Kanagawa, Japan

The art of decorating fans with calligraphy and painting became a highly refined art early in Japanese history. Before long, the ornamentation of fans became a popular art form in China and later spread to Western Europe by the seventeenth century and eighteenth century. Although the ornamentation of fans was practiced in different countries over the centuries, Japanese, Chinese and Western European artists developed different approaches to the art. While Western and Chinese artists presented pictorial scenes cut in the form of a sectorial window, Japanese artists, by contrast, distorted pictorial scenes in order to adapt them to the fan format. According to traditional Japanese painting methods, buildings were drawn by oblique projection or axonometric projection. However, in the case of fan paintings, the method was similar to three-point perspective drawing or inverse perspective drawing. Thus, pictorial scenes on Japanese fans are distinctive from other painting formats and exhibit original expressive characteristics. Because of the sectorial form of the picture plane, three expressive compositional features result: the radial feature, the curved feature and the progressive feature. For this study, I have converted the sectorial picture planes of several fans in the series, Fans with 'Scenes from The Tale of Genji', dated about the late sixteenth century and held at Jyodo-ji Temple, Hiroshima prefecture, into rectangular picture planes. I then examined the representation of space from the viewpoint of these three characteristics.

Keywords: Application of geometry in arts, pictorial scenes on Japanese fans, distortion.

MSC: 51N05

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