Harue Koga: The art of assimilating Western styles

Oct 8, 2010

Harue Koga: The art of assimilating Western styles

The curse of early Western-style Japanese painters is the charge of derivativeness. Simply because they embraced foreign artistic idioms rather than their own indigenous artistic traditions, it is easy to dismiss them as mere copyists, “regurgitating” whatever it was they saw in the latest ...

'Here Comes the Tengu'

| Oct 8, 2010

'Here Comes the Tengu'

Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History Closes Oct. 31 Maybe it’s because of the big nose and the red face — like some grotesque characterization of my fellow Europeans and me — or it might just be the aura of a potent figure existing ...

Delorean

Oct 1, 2010

Delorean

The Argentinian writer and Nobel laureate Jorge Luis Borges once described the Basques as “a people who throughout history have done little else than milk cows.” Although this dismissive comment was from a character narrating a tale rather than the author’s own, it could ...

Find time in the 'Forests of Asoka'

Oct 1, 2010

Find time in the 'Forests of Asoka'

Like many people, I have an instinctive suspicion of conceptual art, regarding its practitioners in the same league as politicians, lawyers and snake oil salesmen; namely, hot-air artists who rely too much on words to win us over to their dubious concepts. Art should ...

Show undermined by a surfeit of masters

Sep 17, 2010

Show undermined by a surfeit of masters

Save us from the well-rounded exhibition! For museum visitors in Japan, this is a constant danger; something I was reminded of again by the Setagaya Art Museum’s latest show: “Masterpieces from the Collection of the Kunstmuseum Winterthur.” Like other multi-faceted exhibitions that endeavor to ...

In the absence of information comes greater imagination

Aug 27, 2010

In the absence of information comes greater imagination

The 1990s saw the rise of what at the time seemed an important generation of Japanese female photographers. This included Junko Takahashi, HIROMIX, Rika Noguchi, Mika Ninagawa and Tomoko Sawada. While much of this new wave — most notably the narcissistic soft-porn of HIROMIX ...

Who deserves to sit alongside Chagall?

Jul 30, 2010

Who deserves to sit alongside Chagall?

There are many ways to view the lush, colorful, dreamlike and apparently naive art of Marc Chagall, one of the undoubted greats of 20th-century painting. “Marc Chagall and the Russian Avant-garde, from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou” at The University Art Museum, Tokyo ...

Looking back at the Renaissance

Jul 16, 2010

Looking back at the Renaissance

To the receptive, an old painting can sometimes seem like a time machine, giving a vivid sense of the hand and mind that created it, as well as the social milieu and atmosphere behind it. But this time- traveling analogy doesn’t just extend to ...

A view of Naples' 'head of the hill'

Jul 9, 2010

A view of Naples' 'head of the hill'

Following the exhibition “Galleria Borghese” at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum earlier this year, yet another famous Italian artistic institution is in town. This time it’s the Capodimonte Museum from Naples, with a show at the National Museum of Western Art. Like the Borghese ...

Artistic daring from a retired prime minister

Jun 4, 2010

Artistic daring from a retired prime minister

This story may sound like the ultimate anecdote about “slumming it,” a phenomenon in which the rich and privileged willingly choose to endure conditions much harsher and more squalid than they are used to. About 10 years ago, following his retirement from politics, ex-Prime ...