The artist and the island

Jan 3, 2008

The artist and the island

Because of strong pressures to belong and conform in Japanese society, the country can be a difficult place for those otherwise inclined. One reaction to this is the hikikomori phenomenon, in which chiefly young males reduce contact with society to a minimum by staying ...

Hokusai's 'Dutch' courage

Dec 20, 2007

Hokusai's 'Dutch' courage

It might sound a corny to say that artists live through their works, but in the case of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), whose lengthy life story is mired in muddles, myths and myriad name changes, it is his art that speaks with the clearest voice ...

Freed by the war

Dec 13, 2007

Freed by the war

Nationalism — especially in the Japanese context — routinely gets a bad press. Just the word seems to call forth visions of braying sound trucks, surly permed fellows in jump suits, and seedy revisionist historians with axes to grind or ungrind. But nationalism can ...

Picking up where science slips

Dec 6, 2007

Picking up where science slips

When it comes to giving us a handle on the world we live in, science no longer cuts it. In its latest incarnations — superstring and M-theory — it postulates 10, 11 or even more dimensions, only three or four of which we can ...

'Asae Soya: Prism'

Nov 1, 2007

"Asae Soya: Prism"

Nishimura Gallery Runs till Nov. 17 Perspective, by its invocation of distance, divides things and people from each other. While such divisions help us to organize things mentally and visually, they can also deaden the sensuousness and warmth we feel for objects around us. ...

Ikuo Hirayama sought solace on the road

Sep 27, 2007

Ikuo Hirayama sought solace on the road

Ikuo Hirayama clearly represents how the Japanese like to see — and project — themselves. His paintings, located in the strong traditions of nihonga (Japanese-style painting), are unmistakably Japanese, but they look outwards to the rest of the world and express the spirit of ...

Cities in the dust

Aug 30, 2007

Cities in the dust

The Fascist dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea — but he did manage the unusual feat of transcending time. Franco’s restoration of the old aristocracy and the Catholic Church in Spain effectively turned the clock back, while his restrictive economic policies ...

'Hiroshi Teshigahara'

Aug 16, 2007

"Hiroshi Teshigahara"

Museum of Modern Art, Saitama Closes in 53 days Hiroshi Teshigahara, who died in 2001, is chiefly remembered as the avant-garde film director who gave celluloid form to author Kobo Abe’s surreal, Kafkaesque novel, “The Woman in the Dunes” (1964). One of the things ...

After 100 years of change, Nitten moves to the NACT

Aug 9, 2007

After 100 years of change, Nitten moves to the NACT

R esearch the biography of any prominent Japanese artist in the last 100 years and you’ll likely run into terms such as Bunten, Teiten, Shin Bunten and Nitten. Though the plethora of names may be off-putting, they all refer to the same thing: Japan’s ...