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Shimizu Kôshô (1911-1999)
Mu - Empty
Signed: Chôrô Kôshô
Seals: Tôdai Chôrô, Kôshô, .. .. (tp)
Technique: sumi on paper 35.8 x 50
Mounting: gold brocade and grey beige silk
123 x 52.5
Box: signed
Condition: very good

Box inscripton outside: Mu ichi, seal: Kôshô, inside: {signed:] Chôrô Kôshô
seals: 東大寺印、東大長老、公照、Tôdaiji in, Tôdai chôrô, Kôshô

Mu, The subtle sense of enlightenment that goes beyond “is” and “is not”.(Lewis, Zen grove handbook)

Shimizu Kosho was born in the famous castle town of Himeji on January 3rd, 1911 and entered Todai-ji-Temple in Nara in 1927. Upon graduation in Buddhist studies from Ryokoku University in 1933 he took up residence at Tenryu-ji for four years to study and practice Zen under the guidance of the Abbot Seki Seisetsu (1877-1945). When he returned to Todai-ji, the first steps of his career were closely linked to the temple's teaching institutions. In 1947 he became Director of the school (which was later to become the still existing Todai-ji High School). In 1959 he was appointed the Director of the Monks' Academy (Kangakuin) at Todai-ji, and in 1963 became Director of Todai-ji Girls' School and Todai-ji Kindergarten. 1969 marked a turning point in Kosho's career, when he was appointed as Head of Religious Affairs of the Kegon Tradition. In 1975 the Abbot Kamitsukasa Kaiun (1907-1975) died and Shimizu Kosho was chosen as his successor, becoming the 207th Abbot of Todai-ji. He remained in this position for only a short time, resigning in 1981.
For the remaining nearly twenty years of his life, Shimizu Kosho was dedicated to the life of an artist. He became a prolific "eccentric" painter, calligrapher and figurative potter. Unlike most artist-monks, he did not limit himself to painting in only black ink, but enjoyed a full range of colours. His writing and painting styles are what may be described as obsessively impulsive. His clay figures are charmingly naive and sculptural refinement was clearly not one of his aims. In 1994, when the Shosha Art and Craft Museum (in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture), was founded, Shimizu Kosho was made its honorary director because he donated a large number of his artworks. He died on May 6th, 1999.