As common as it is for a woman to be shown barebreasted in the arts of India, Southeast Asia, and Europe, it's rare in the arts of Korea, China, and Japan. What's going on here? Is this a courtesan or a young country woman who has unself-consciously exposed her breasts as she goes about her everyday activities? Would the artist and patron have thought of this work as a record of daily life, or as calculated titillation? Something risqué or erotic seems intended, because the woman is looking toward the lower corner where
Maybe there's another factor. By the time this painting was made, illustrations of artworks from around the world would have been easily available in books and magazines. Might this artist have been familiar with depictions of similarly posed female fertility figures on ancient Buddhist monuments in India? We are faced with questions about what we suppose the artist's intent to have been, what the open or veiled erotic charges are, and what other artworks an artist may be referencing, and expecting us to notice.
- FMcG ("Gorgeous" exhibition)