The designs of both father (who died in 1993) and daughter look misted into the fabric. One of Kuboku’s obi features blue hydrangeas, and the tonal range of softly defined petals, within a small surface coverage, is great but subtly graduated, from transparent azure through tissuey violet to inky purple. He aspired to balance opposing elements — tension and release, concentration and distillation, density and lightness — by unifying them with swift pictorial energy. Hisako carries on that tradition. Her Obi with Water Current is pure speed and stillness: the apparently nonchalant, calligraphic brushwork generates a binding force. In his catalog essay, Masato Nakano says that when Kuboku fuses subject and material, the result is “beauty without reason.” That’s an appropriately ambiguous phrase to describe an art that’s reducible only to its own mysteries of inspiration and touch. ■
Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan and Dyeing Elegance: Asian Modernism and the Art of Kuboku and Hisako Takaku are on view at the San Diego Museum of Art until May 27. 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park, 619-232-7931.