Japanese screens called Byobu (literally wind walls) comprise folding panels called leaves. Paintings or calligraphy adorn them accompanied by the artist’s signature or seal.
In Japanese dwellings they created sliding partitions to avoid onlooking or draughts or simply to dim the light. A plain or reflective surface when covered in gold or silver would filter or reflect light from the outside or from candles and oil lamps. The volume of the space or room was thus modified.
The structure and the conception of a Byobu vary according to different periods in Japanese history as do the techniques and materials used. Several layers of strong hand made Japanese paper were simply stretched across the panels onto a light wooden frame. A series of paper hinges were then used to seamlessly join them which was the effect desired. Thus the screen was able to fold forwards or backwards like an accordion and when fully open a continuous surface could be seen. Brocade and wooden rods would frame the whole.
The painting was rarely the work of one artist but he would define the overall composition.
Nature was an essential element in the painting with faithfulness to detail and reality and therefore perspective was accentuated. Thus nature and wildlife adorned the panels and gold as an intricate part of the interior sculpture and decoration too. Wherever placed it gave depth and quality to the light.
To view / acquire at the showroom at 40 Boulevard des Moulins in Monaco. Details available in the exhibition catalogue.