Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Talks and Lectures

The Chinese Painter Muqi in Japanese Culture

Discover the artist behind some of Zen’s most celebrated masterpieces in this special presentation by a curator of Chinese painting from the Kyoto National Museum.

General Admission Tickets

No Chinese artist has been as admired in Japan and as deeply integrated into Japanese culture as Muqi (approx. 1210–after 1269). A Zen (Chinese: Chan) monk, Muqi infused his art with an evocative sense of spirituality, relinquishing formal representation and using expressive brushwork to capture intangible elements such as light and air. Introduced by monks returning from Buddhist studies in China, his ink paintings resonated profoundly with audiences in Japan, where they were revered not only within Zen temples but also among shoguns, daimyo lords, and other members of elite society. In The Heart of Zen, two iconic and beloved paintings attributed to Muqi are being shown in the United States for the first time courtesy of a partnership with Daitokuji Ryokoin Temple in Kyoto. This presentation will provide a glimpse into the world of this Southern Song dynasty painter whose enduring legacy is still felt to this day.

Please note: the lecture will be delivered in Japanese with live English translation.



Natsumi Morihashi is associate curator of Chinese painting at the Kyoto National Museum. From 2014 to 2021, she served as curator in charge of Chinese painting at the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts. She completed her doctoral coursework in art history at Kyushu University. In recent years, her research has focused on themes such as Daoist and Buddhist painting from the Song and Yuan dynasties and the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou from the Qing dynasty.


Image: Returning Sails off a Distant Shore, attributed to Muqi. China, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century. Hanging scroll, ink on paper. Kyoto National Museum. Important Cultural Property. Photo by Okada Ai.

This lecture is free with general admission. If you wish to view the special exhibition Murakami: Monsterized, please pre-register your timed exhibition ticket as space is limited. 

Organizers & Sponsors

The Heart of Zen is organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco in partnership with Daitokuji Ryokoin Temple and with assistance from the Kyoto National Museum. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Presentation is made possible with the generous support of Barbara Bass Bakar, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Fred Eychaner Fund, and the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation. Additional support is provided by Kathy Bissinger, Glen S. and Sakie T. Fukushima, Marsha S. Handley, Lore Harp McGovern, John S. Osterweis, The Japan Foundation, and Michael and Ginger Hu. Public programs for this exhibition are supported by Target. 

Sustained support generously provided by the Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Endowment Fund for Exhibitions. 

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