These paired creatures represent the elements of water and wind in Chinese cosmology: the dragon’s
swirling form conjures rain clouds, and the tiger embodies the wind’s terrible, unpredictable force.
Lee found in Sesson’s paintings intimations of a developing Japanese style distinct from Chinese
predecessors. Here, parody and pattern are at the forefront. The formidable, awe-inspiring tiger
takes on the demeanor of a curious house cat, and a once-snarling dragon’s face morphs into
an oddly befuddled human expression. Such exaggerated, humorously rendered faces suggest
a gentle domestication of these primal forces. Lee described Sesson’s work as inhabiting a world of
aesthetic awareness, in which brushstroke and pattern are primary and where waves are "arranged
in graceful and rhythmically repetitive reflex curves, primarily decorative shapes and only secondarily
water and foam."
Nara National Museum, Japan (2/21-3/29/98); Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo (4/28-6/21/98) "Highlights of Asian Painting from The Cleveland Museum of Art" p.114-115, cat. no. 76.
The Cleveland Museum of Art (06/28/2009 - 08/30/2009): "Streams and Mountains Without End: Asian Art and the Legacy of Sherman E. Lee at the Cleveland Museum of Art"
Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer). Tokyo National Museum (1/15/2014 - 2/23/2014) and Kyushu National Museum (7/8/2014 - 8/31/2014): "Admired from Afar: Masterworks of Japanese Painting from the Cleveland Museum of Art", cat. no. 28, p. 85, 87.