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. ...

Mar 20, 2009

So was Modernism Chinese?

A In his lifetime, artist Ding Yanyong was called both the “Oriental Matisse” and the “Modern Bada Shanren,” after the Chinese individualist painter born Zhu Da (1629-1705). The combination of the epithets obviously reflects Ding’s (1902-78) ability to straddle the East and West, but ...

So was Modernism Chinese?

Mar 20, 2009

So was Modernism Chinese?

A In his lifetime, artist Ding Yanyong was called both the “Oriental Matisse” and the “Modern Bada Shanren,” after the Chinese individualist painter born Zhu Da (1629-1705). The combination of the epithets obviously reflects Ding’s (1902-78) ability to straddle the East and West, but ...

Linking video games to their visual history

Feb 27, 2009

Linking video games to their visual history

Think of post-World War II popular culture in Japan as it relates to contemporary art, and you invariably arrive at Murakami Takashi and his Kaikai Kiki company/studio. But a new generation that draws from Japanese pop culture — and yet has no close connections ...

An abandoned history of Chinese influence

Feb 13, 2009

An abandoned history of Chinese influence

Edo Period (1603-1868) paintings from Osaka have been relatively neglected in comparison with paintings from Tokyo and Kyoto. A canonical list of works and a historical framework were written up in Tokyo in the 1890s in a series of influential lectures by scholar Okakura ...

Western Japan's eclectic master

Feb 6, 2009

Western Japan's eclectic master

A matter of temperament was said to distinguish the two major regional centers of nihonga (Japanese-style painting), Tokyo and Kyoto, at the turn of the 20th century. Tokyo painters imbued their works with “brain” by way of complex content, while Kyoto artists held firm ...

Looking back as Japan advanced

Jan 16, 2009

Looking back as Japan advanced

As a young student of realistic nihonga (Japanese-style painting), Kansetsu Hashimoto worked under the eminent teacher Seiho Takeuchi (1864-1942), a painter best known for his depictions of animals. But Hashimoto, distancing himself from the master and his subject material, later said that he “didn’t ...

Words as images

Jan 1, 2009

Words as images

On a single white sheet, the kanji for “snow” — yuki — printed in black, is repeated exactly 1,352 times in a symmetrical grid formation. A 1970 work by Niikuni Seiichi, “flowery snow” (1970) is at once calligraphy, poem and picture. In the Chinese ...

Arts of enlightenment

Nov 27, 2008

Arts of enlightenment

The exhibition “National Treasures of Miidera Temple,” presently at Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, tells a fractured story of the famed Tendai Buddhist temple that spread its influence across the regional temples of western Japan, from the establishment of a core of sacred imagery, ...

A place for women

Nov 6, 2008

A place for women

Seian Shima’s “Untitled” (1918), in “Women Artists in Osaka” at the Osaka City Museum of Modern Art till Dec. 7, is a remarkable work. A self-portrait — uncommon in Japanese painting generally — it conforms to no ideal form of beauty, unlike images done ...