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 ...

The northern lights from Italy

Nov 13, 2009

The northern lights from Italy

In 1966, after graduating from Tokyo’s Tama Art University with a degree in interior design and doing a few odd jobs, Hidetoshi Nagasawa got on a bike and cycled out of Japan. He boarded a ship to Thailand and on arrival, resumed his bike ...

Adding and subtracting dimensions to further appreciate art

Oct 23, 2009

Adding and subtracting dimensions to further appreciate art

The camera obscura is an optical device that was occasionally used by Dutch painters of the 17th century to help them achieve a superlative level of technical proficiency. Literally meaning “darkened chamber” in Latin, it is a room with a small hole in one ...

Sep 25, 2009

Observing the pieces of a fragmented self

From an overwhelming slew of art, literature, music, cinema and theater references, there seems to emerge a provisional feel for order in William Kentridge’s filmic worlds: worlds created between the artist and spectators’ activity in constructing narratives from discrete fragments. How this materializes is ...

'Modern Living: Hiroe Komai'

| Sep 18, 2009

"Modern Living: Hiroe Komai"

Shin-bi Gallery, Kyoto Closes Nov. 8 London-based Hiroe Komai’s first solo exhibition, “Modern Living,” shows a series of sculptural low-relief wall collages and colored drawings. The drawings take up themes of Cubist and Modernist apartment blocks, cellular geometric lattices, or the interior of a ...

Breaking fairy-tale conventions of beauty

Sep 11, 2009

Breaking fairy-tale conventions of beauty

Against the tradition of bijinga (beautiful women pictures) that runs through Japanese art, there is an antithetical stream that draws attention to a grotesque and timeworn femininity. In noh plays, the celebrated early 9th-century beauty of the Heian Era, Ono no Komachi, is sometimes ...

Modern Kyoto

Jul 10, 2009

Modern Kyoto

In 1895, Kyoto was badly in need of public relations. Kyoto’s population was in decline, and traditional industries such as ceramics and textile manufacturing were in disarray. Since 794, the city had been the Imperial capital, until Edo was renamed Tokyo in 1868 and ...

A re-imagining of Osaka's riverfront

Jun 26, 2009

A re-imagining of Osaka's riverfront

“Tadao Ando Exhibition 2009: The City of Water/Osaka vs. Venice” seems like a fixed fight. Many would even balk at the idea of the match-up. Venice is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, while Osaka, not spared U.S. bombing raids in World War ...

Jun 5, 2009

Striving for a more simple life

The paintings in “The Naxi Lifeworld: Native Painters in Northwestern Yunnan” by Zhang Yunling (b. 1955) and Zhang Chunting (b. 1958) proffer a simple and honest way of life, steeped in the seasons, nostalgia, and the pictographic Dongba script of the Naxi people of ...

A new spirit for tea traditions

May 15, 2009

A new spirit for tea traditions

In the rarefied world of Japanese tea ceremony, innovations have often been greeted coolly. When the Japanese-American abstract sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-88) gave a tea kettle of his own making to the landscape designer and tea connoisseur Mirei Shigemori (1896-75), the recipient was baffled. ...