Matthew Larking

For Matthew Larking's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

A play on the idea of performance art

Nov 29, 2016

A play on the idea of performance art

By the late 1960s, Japan’s early postwar avant-garde had largely petered out. The radicals of yesteryear were now 20 years older and the country had returned to material affluence and international acceptance symbolized by the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Following the anti-art movements from the ...

Kyoto museum celebrates the works of native son Ito Jakuchu

Nov 15, 2016

Kyoto museum celebrates the works of native son Ito Jakuchu

In 2000, the Kyoto National Museum commemorated the death of Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800) with an exhibition that generated a surge of interest in the artist. The boom has possibly reached its zenith this year, which marks the 300th anniversary of his birth. While the ...

Every hero has a few human flaws

Nov 1, 2016

Every hero has a few human flaws

Ryoma Sakamoto (1835-1867), among Japan’s most beloved heroes, came of age when U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry’s Black Ships arrived demanding trade relations and ending the country’s closed-door foreign policy. The old Japan ruled by the feudal Tokugawa shogunate was giving way to the modern ...

Yosa Buson: A Japan-China relationship that works

Sep 13, 2016

Yosa Buson: A Japan-China relationship that works

Of all the eminent Edo Period Japanese artists being celebrated this year, the honors have definitively gone to the eccentric painter Ito Jakuchu (1603-1868), whose 300th anniversary is celebrated in at least four retrospectives nationwide, some recently finished and others forthcoming Artists’ reputations belong ...

The 'informel' whirlwind that swept across Japan

Aug 30, 2016

The 'informel' whirlwind that swept across Japan

Taro Okamoto’s “Men Aflame” (1955) is a swirling fusion of figuration, surrealism and abstraction. The content addresses the irradiation of Japanese sailors onboard the Dai-go Fukuryu-maru by fallout from American nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll. The painting is part of the 1950s Japanese art ...

Salvador Dali: a life less ordinary

Aug 16, 2016

Salvador Dali: a life less ordinary

The early literary surrealists of the mid-1920s were skeptical of any visual possibility. Their aim — to fuse art with life, reality and dreams — was to be realized through the immediacy of writing. Painting, by contrast, was a laborious, indirect expression mediated by ...

Aug 9, 2016

Foujita's struggle between Paris and Tokyo

Few Japanese artists have received the extremes of acclaim and censure that Leonard Foujita (Tsuguharu Fujita, 1886-1968) has. Based in Paris from 1913 he became Japan’s only painter of international significance at that time, and by the 1920s, he commanded prices comparable to Picasso. ...

The embellished world of Kozan Miyagawa's ceramics

Jul 5, 2016

The embellished world of Kozan Miyagawa's ceramics

In 1954-55, three Kyoto ceramists of the Sodeisha group of artists began a revolution by creating objects that fulfilled no practical role. Kazuo Yagi, Osamu Suzuki and Hikaru Yamada took away the mouths of vases or added several more to them, played with vessels’ ...

Japan's conflicted art of World War II

Jun 7, 2016

Japan's conflicted art of World War II

The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art’s current exhibition, “1945±5: The Works that Survived through the Turbulent and Reconstruction Era,” showcases modern Japanese art five years either side of the pivotal end of World War II. It addresses oil painting and mostly follows a conventional ...