Jan 12, 2012

From picnic cups to vessels of the future

In the immediate decades after World War II, part of what it meant to be a contemporary artist in Japan was to belong to some kind of regular exhibiting institution. These organizations were different from the prewar institutions that continued, such as the government-sponsored ...

From picnic cups to vessels of the future

Jan 12, 2012

From picnic cups to vessels of the future

In the immediate decades after World War II, part of what it meant to be a contemporary artist in Japan was to belong to some kind of regular exhibiting institution. These organizations were different from the prewar institutions that continued, such as the government-sponsored ...

Kaori Watanabe: Preparing for the trials of adulthood

Dec 29, 2011

Kaori Watanabe: Preparing for the trials of adulthood

“Tradition,” and how one might relate to it, is often met with censure in contemporary art. It implies inheritance and repetition and is occasionally thought of as uncreative. None of this has to be true, but the tension between the tradition of nihonga (Japanese-style ...

Painting a picture of Yumeji Takehisa

Dec 15, 2011

Painting a picture of Yumeji Takehisa

A persistent and lingering myth is that Yumeji Takehisa (1884-1934), who forwent conventional art training at a sanctioned institution and earned widespread popular appeal for all the things the arts were supposedly not, was unimportant to the fine arts. Originally, he had wanted to ...

The embodiment of Buddha Shakyamuni through art

Nov 17, 2011

The embodiment of Buddha Shakyamuni through art

“What is national treasure?” wrote Saicho (767-822), the founding monk of Tendai Buddhism, in his 818 “The Essential Teachings for Tendai Lotus Sect Priests,” which he presented to Emperor Saga to bolster the standing of his esoteric order. His answer was pursuing the Buddhist ...

Wonderlands of the artists' making

Oct 13, 2011

Wonderlands of the artists' making

With a show titled “Ways of Worldmaking,” you expect something big and with plenty of diversity — and The National Museum of Art, Osaka, mostly achieves this. Six individuals and three artist groups — all young and up-and-coming — have been brought together and ...

Bringing Western-style painting back to the East

Oct 6, 2011

Bringing Western-style painting back to the East

Ryusei Kishida (1891-1929) remains a giant of modern yōga (Western-style Japanese painting), though his idea of “modernism” would mostly have been unrecognizable to his Western counterparts. While his early painting dealt with Western precedents of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from the late 19th century, he ...

Tradition that hides in abstraction

Sep 22, 2011

Tradition that hides in abstraction

Abstraction came into vogue during a reinvigorated period of the 1950s and ’60s, following on from its introduction by experimental Japanese artists of the 1910s, who were influenced by European importations of Expressionism, Cubism and Futurism. As a painterly idiom, abstraction could claim for ...

The enduring reputation of Shigeru Aoki's brief career

Jun 30, 2011

The enduring reputation of Shigeru Aoki's brief career

Shigeru Aoki’s short life was “beset by all manner of bad luck, and he passed through it like a shooting star” wrote Hanijiro Sakamoto (1882-1969), one of the giants of post-WWII Western-style painting. Shigeru (1882-1911) was only 28 when he passed away, and his ...