"Cranes and Waves," one piece from the Berkeley Art Museum exhibit. Image source.
Encompassing galleries four, five, and six of the Berkeley Art Museum’s six total spaces, “Flowers of the Four Seasons” is a unique look at Japanese art that incorporates all aspects of nature. Including primarily wall panels and screens, the collection expresses many different facets of Japanese art, from the humor of artists to Buddhist sculptures. Muted browns and other earthy colors found in nature dominate the exhibit, reflecting its theme.
The two most prominent seasons in the exhibit are fall and winter, due to the muted color scheme. It begins with several Buddhist sculptures and panels largely depicting nature in autumn. Elegant birds appear on several of the screens, such as “Cranes and Waves” and “Herons and Pheasants.” As the exhibit continues to gallery five, people and snow begin appearing in the artwork, signaling a shift to winter. The muted tones of the fall also begin to include shades of blue that are reflective of the chilly winter months. Finally in gallery six, the color purple -- in addition to the depiction of humans -- takes a more prominent role in the artwork, as in “Set of Five Bijin Paintings,” to indicate the approach of spring.
Conveniently located on Bancroft Avenue, the Berkeley Art Museum offers a serene get-away from bustling life at Cal and an opportunity to gain some new insight into Japanese art.