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C.B. Liddell
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Apr 26, 2014
The Sacred Science of Ancient Japan: Lost Chronicles of the Age of the Gods
Every religion or collection of national myths requires a great deal of editing. Some texts are selected as 'official,' others are discarded. A by-product of this is the world of apocrypha, mysterious manuscripts that, it is claimed, contain esoteric insights or divine revelations.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Apr 9, 2014
Art on the brink of fragmentation
You can't go wrong by calling a show "Fragments," as the curators of this year's "MOT Annual" exhibition have done. With a name like that, whatever bits and pieces visitors encounter at the annual group show of Tokyo's Museum of Contemporary Art, they can't say they were cheated because a name like that...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Apr 2, 2014
When political agenda hinders aesthetic pleasure
The title of this exhibition is a clear attempt to evoke the idea of 'magical realism,' a literary genre that has been particularly associated with Latin American literature.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Apr 1, 2014
Saxophonist Maceo Parker brings a funk legacy to Tokyo, Osaka on Japan visit
Maceo Parker will be carrying a heavy load of history on his shoulders when he visits Japan for a string of gigs this month, but you wouldn't know it from his carefree attitude.
CULTURE / Art
Mar 26, 2014
On light, wind — and good sake
Tokyo Station Gallery is one of the more interesting art venues in the city. Occupying part of the renovated Tokyo Station Building, it combines daring modern design with the building's early 20th-century, red-brick charm.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Feb 27, 2014
Exhausting the sense of the beautiful
The Aesthetic Movement, a loosely defined tendency in 19th-century European art, operated under the slogan of 'art of art's sake' and believed beauty was the end, not the means.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Feb 12, 2014
The Pre-Raphaelites: Britain’s Romantic rule breakers
Some paintings will always be identified with the place where you first saw them. You may even feel surprised to see them somewhere else. This is how I felt when I visited the Mori Arts Center Gallery, one of Tokyo's high-rise art venues, to see "Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde."
Japan Times
LIFE / Style & Design
Feb 3, 2014
Japan's iron age continues in style
Nambu Tekki, traditional Japanese ironware has developed to produce many aesthetically pleasing designs, including brightly colored contemporary products for the French market.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jan 22, 2014
Hiraki Sawa’s dream world: Worth the pause for thought
Sometimes it can be irritating visiting an exhibition of video-based art. You come in halfway through one of the videos or near the end of another, and you feel that you've missed something and wonder if you should stick around to watch it from the start.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jan 15, 2014
The extent of Puvis de Chavannes' stately influence
When you enter 'Arcadia by the Shore' it is not difficult to get a sense of why Puvis de Chavannes was so successful in his own day, and why his reputation later slipped far behind those of other painters then considered his inferiors.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Jan 8, 2014
Shimomura Kanzan kept nihonga clean and cool
Art can sometimes play a balancing or compensatory role in society, giving voice to neglected or superseded aspects of a culture. For example, the neo-feudalist ethos of Pre-Raphaelitism and the pastoralism of Impressionism developed against a backdrop of increasing urbanization and materialism. This...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Dec 25, 2013
Best of the West tops this year's major shows
Japan occupies an odd niche in the art world. Its own indigenous artistic traditions are balanced against an almost fanboy fascination with certain aspects of the canon of Western art, while there is an often half-hearted attempt to stay plugged into the global contemporary art scene with its various...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Dec 14, 2013
Japonisme and the Rise of the Modern Art Movement: The Arts of the Meiji Period
There is an art to art collecting that involves quite different skills from those employed by artists. People tend to assume it's all about rich people spending money, but, if that was all that was involved, collecting wouldn't have half the attraction it does for those obsessed by it.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Dec 11, 2013
The noisy posters of the silent 1920s
When the Communists seized control of Russia in late 1917, they found themselves in a difficult position. According to Marxist theory, the revolution should have happened hundreds of miles further west in one of the more industrialized countries, such as Britain or Germany, with a working class that...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Dec 4, 2013
A modern view of a neglected Impressionist
The French painter Gustave Caillebotte has suffered more than most from the fact that he wasn't Monet, Manet, or Renoir. As one of the second-ranking Impressionists, he has long been in the shadow of these more famous names with which his career is associated.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Nov 27, 2013
Portraits of an artist as a young man — and an older one
Yasumasa Morimura is a weird mixture of curator, artist and simple art lover. Throughout his career he has selected famous portraits and paintings of people and then faithfully recreated them, with the exception of superimposing his own face on the subjects.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Nov 14, 2013
Artist Yoshioka channels natural inspirations for 'Crystallize' exhibition
Is art that echoes nature “eco” art? This is one of the many questions that the work of designer/artist Tokujin Yoshioka explores.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Nov 6, 2013
Divided opinions on Divisionism
By the time you get to the end of the Divisionism exhibition, now showing at the National Art Center Tokyo, you realize that this strand in the history of art is more about the journey than the destination. It's like traveling through a world that becomes increasingly less realistic but nevertheless...
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Oct 30, 2013
Turner: Steering art toward Impressionism
One of the most impressive paintings at the "Turner from the Tate" exhibition now on at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is "Spithead: Two Captured Danish Ships Entering Portsmouth Harbour" (1808).
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Oct 23, 2013
The importance of being Yokoyama
Big exhibitions of famous Japanese artists are usually held on important anniversaries of their birth or death. The Taikan Yokoyama exhibition now on at the Yokohama Museum of Art, however, breaks with this convention. Rather than marking the 150th, 100th or 50th anniversary of the birth or death of...

Longform

Traditional folk rituals like Mizudome-no-mai (dance to stop the rain) provide a sense of agency to a population that feels largely powerless in the face of the climate crisis.
As climate extremes intensify, Japan embraces ancient weather rituals