Matthew Larking

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

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 ...

The many portraits of an artist as a young, and older, man

May 17, 2016

The many portraits of an artist as a young, and older, man

As photographer Yasumasa Morimura has predominantly made his name since 1985 in eccentric self-portraiture involving impersonations of famous people, his current exhibition is conceptually and structurally all autobiography. It is a tale serially told through chapters with a beginning, middle-stage developments and a seemingly ...

Hakuin's picture of Zen Buddhism

May 3, 2016

Hakuin's picture of Zen Buddhism

Zen, traced to the ancient teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni, took root in China via India around 1,500 years ago through the first Zen patriarch, Bodhidharma. Spread there by the priest Linji Yixuan (Rinzai Gigen, died 867), it was transmitted to Japan in the ...

Putting some faith into the art of decoration

Apr 12, 2016

Putting some faith into the art of decoration

The titular kazari (decoration or ornament) as the focus of “Kazari: Decoration in Faith and Festival,” the Miho Museum’s spring exhibition, is intended to restore something of the centrality of its concept of decorative embellishment to Japanese art. While the exhibits are consummate, however, ...