Brothers brought together by differences

Jun 4, 2010

Brothers brought together by differences

Takejiro Inagaki was a nihonga (Japanese style) painter who later turned to crafting gold and lacquer wares. These artistic skills were shared by two of his sons, whose bodies of work are the subject of “The Inagaki Brothers: Chusei and Toshijiro” at The National ...

The accessories that fanned the flames of screen painting

May 7, 2010

The accessories that fanned the flames of screen painting

Given the relative dearth of fan-painting exhibitions, it seems a relatively minor art commensurate with its small-scale format. In reality, it was the most abundantly produced kind of painting in Japan for many centuries, giving birth, or at least standing as precursor, to the ...

In the hope that death does not do us part

Apr 30, 2010

In the hope that death does not do us part

In “Do Not go Gentle Into That Good Night,” the 20th-century Welsh poet Dylan Thomas famously defied death with the words, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” In a more conceptual art way, the Japanese-born New York-based Shusaku Arakawa (b.1936) is similarly ...

Taking a name for themselves

Apr 23, 2010

Taking a name for themselves

“What’s in a name? Juliet asks in “Romeo and Juliet.” Half a world away, two close contemporaries of Shakespeare, though painters not writers, could have offered some answers: reputation, privilege, commissions and ultimately value. Hasegawa Tohaku (1539-1610) laid claim to the artistic lineage of ...

New dimensions in a chain

Feb 26, 2010

New dimensions in a chain

What makes the exhibition in two stages of Yoshio Kitayama’s works at the MEM gallery in Osaka all the more surprising is that they are paintings — not the sculpture/installations for which the artist is conventionally known. In fact, Kitayama’s most recent works were ...

Blooming successes flower in artwork

Jan 29, 2010

Blooming successes flower in artwork

East Asian flower-and-bird painting emerged as a genre in China around the 8th century and the tradition has survived through to the present. Its resonances for modern and contemporary Japanese artists are currently the theme of two very different exhibitions: “By the Water-lily Pond” ...

New art horizons seen from Kansai

Jan 22, 2010

New art horizons seen from Kansai

While the progression of Japanese art within the last decade is being celebrated at the “Garden of Painting” exhibition at The National Museum of Art in Osaka, other galleries in the area, such as the Tomio Koyama Gallery, Kyoto, and the YOD Gallery, Osaka, ...

Habsburg treasures celebrate art history

Jan 15, 2010

Habsburg treasures celebrate art history

It seems anachronistic and a little too culturally remote to call Rudolf II (1552-1612) a culture otaku, but that’s how the catalog for the “Treasures of the Habsburg Monarchy,” now in its second staging at Kyoto National Museum until March 14, describes him. The ...

What's real in a world of copies and clones?

Jan 8, 2010

What's real in a world of copies and clones?

I n contrast to the type of mass- produced art best characterized in Japan by Takashi Murakami and the hordes of assistants who complete paintings and sculptures to the specifications of their employer, is a small coterie of sculptors/painters who work at individually crafting ...

What lies behind the eccentric?

Nov 20, 2009

What lies behind the eccentric?

The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wrote that what is “familiarly known” is not “properly known,” just for the reason that it is familiar. The familiar historical image of the Edo Period Eccentric painters, one of whom was Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800), is no ...