Painted on a shikishi cardboard, this painting of a tiger by Suda Kokuta was once created as a New Years decoration for a former year of the tiger in 1986. In East Asian belief, the tiger is considered to be brave, strong and fearless but at the same time tends to be impetuous and irritable. These characteristics are well expressed in Suda's depiction. Sitting with straight back and wagging tail, the tiger turns his head to the viewer with a big, surprising and confident smile. The auspicious expression is further highlighted through the inscription of four large Chinese characters, saying: "Laughing Tiger, Beginning of Spring."
Suda Kokuta has been an important artist of the Japanese avant-garde. In 1955, he was invited by Yoshihara Jirō (1905-1972) to become a member of the famous Gutai group, but he refused to do so, preferring to follow his own creative path. His sketch-like, yet complex painting combines different materials such as ink, oil pastel, gouache and pencil drawing and is a good example of Suda’s late style, where he departed from his abstract phase returning again to a more figurative painting. However, with traces of abstraction and his fluid and dynamic way of working, he created an expressive and humorous representation of this powerful zodiac animal.