Obata Chiura (小圃千浦, November 18, 1885 - October 6, 1975) was born Obata Zoroku in Okayama, Japan and grew up in Sendai. He emigrated to California in 1903, where he pursued and taught painting and printmaking, leaving behind a highly distinctive and important body of work. His biography is summarized at our Obata Biography page.
Obata produced a large number of sketches, paintings, and prints depicting horses. They are characterized by close observation of form and movement. As was the case with his landscapes, realism was complemetary to the expression of kiin seidô ("living moment": 気韻生動), i.e., the essential nature of a subject. This quality of observation and interpretation was transmitted through the artist's intuitive connection with the spirit of the subject. In the painting offered here, kiin seidô is evident in Obata's sweeping lines of varying wetness that define the sinewy power of the magnificent horse.
References: Janice Driesbach and Susan Landauer: Obata's Yosemite: The Art and Letters of Chiura Obata from His Trip to the High Sierra in 1927, Yosemite Association, 1993.