Matthew Larking

For Matthew Larking's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Take a dip into the art of darkness

Aug 22, 2017

Take a dip into the art of darkness

Terror and tragedy are widely considered entirely disagreeable in principle. But audiences have for millennia taken pleasure in the pain of narrative spectacles in the arts. Fear is popular because it arouses curiosity in addition to revulsion. So, too, does the assemblage of Western ...

Buddhist hells are frighteningly human

Aug 8, 2017

Buddhist hells are frighteningly human

Popularly known as Genshin (942-1017), the high-ranking Buddhist prelate Eshin Sozu was said to have been born following his devout mother's prayers to the Kannon of Takaoji Temple in Taima, Nara Prefecture. Genshin began the road to monkhood in youth, studying at Kyoto's Enryakuji Temple ...

Painting between the lines

Jul 11, 2017

Painting between the lines

The pairing of Hideki Kimura's prints with the seemingly sculptural assemblages of Sadaharu Horio is perhaps unexpected. What draws them together, however, are conceptions of their practices as painting. Both veterans of Japan's contemporary art scene, they pursue painting by other means, working within ...

Ryan Gander looks back with humor

Jun 13, 2017

Ryan Gander looks back with humor

British artist Ryan Gander does the spread of contemporary art polysemy through objects, installations, paintings, photography and video. All is brought under the rubric of "conceptual" art, for which the catalog of "These wings aren't for flying" at The National Museum of Art, Osaka, ...

Alternative realities of realism

Jun 6, 2017

Alternative realities of realism

"Realism" can be a frustratingly indeterminate term. It can be used to refer to individual paintings, and it can be a conceptual placeholder that seemingly encapsulates the entire history of the Western Renaissance, and other, fine arts through to modernism. The critical afterlives of realism, ...

Kaikei: the name behind the gods

May 23, 2017

Kaikei: the name behind the gods

Kamakura Period (1185-1333) Buddhist sculptures often come down to us under the individual names of makers (when known) though they were often fashioned in workshops by multiple hands. A significant 13th-century work would employ a dozen or so team members and assistants and draw ...

Kaiho Yusho: painting privilege

Apr 25, 2017

Kaiho Yusho: painting privilege

The Momoyama Period (1573-1615) artist Kaiho Yusho (1533-1615) was renowned among the elite painters of his time, and still is. More remarkable, however, is that fame came when he was in his 60s during what is called his "early" period. Over the following two ...

Kyotographie: from Kyoto, with love

Apr 18, 2017

Kyotographie: from Kyoto, with love

Kyotographie — the brainchild of photographer Lucille Reyboz and lighting artist Yusuke Nakanishi — is 5 this year. Conceived and nurtured in Kyoto, it is now one of few substantial photography festivals in Japan, inarguably rivaling, even surpassing, many of the country's other calendar ...

The tortured artist is not just a cliche

Mar 28, 2017

The tortured artist is not just a cliche

Sai Hashizume's latest exhibition of precision realist painting, "This Isn't Happiness," is about updating some of the masters of Western art history. In her five new works, she deals prominently with the surrealist Rene Magritte and Vincent Van Gogh. She also adopts the ominous ...

Masaaki Yamada: A painter of all stripes and colors

Mar 14, 2017

Masaaki Yamada: A painter of all stripes and colors

Masaaki Yamada (1929-2010) is like a mystery man of modernism. He apparently had no specialist art training of note and is known only by a skeleton biography that is mostly blank before 1943, and patchy thereafter. Said to have begun painting from the so-called ...