Matthew Larking

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

Coutelas: Outside the outsiders

Feb 28, 2017

Coutelas: Outside the outsiders

Robert Coutelas (1930-85) was born into a poor French family who lived in a single room, and he died in a similar, pathetically impoverished, way. Nearly every opportunity life afforded he either abandoned or would broker no compromise for the sake of art. Now, ...

Between realism and abstraction

Feb 14, 2017

Between realism and abstraction

Since impressionism had, at its extremities, given rise to the expressionists Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, the postwar painter Jean-Michel Atlan said great art could only be made in the margins. In early postwar Europe, abstraction and figuration were the embattled avant-gardes. Working at ...

The future looks bright for artists in the ancient capital

Jan 31, 2017

The future looks bright for artists in the ancient capital

"Kyoto Art For Tomorrow" at The Museum of Kyoto draws together single pieces by 43 up-and-coming artists under the age of 40. Focusing on a new generation, the exhibition looks forward to the international attention Japan will receive for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Indeed, ...

Taking an art trip through time

Jan 17, 2017

Taking an art trip through time

"The State of This World: Thought and the Arts," the second of the Ashiya City Museum of Art and History's "Art Trip" exhibitions, this time focuses on four contemporary artists' works that are in some instances inspired by archaeology. They address issues of seen ...

World War II: Yasuka Goto gets up close and personal

Jan 10, 2017

World War II: Yasuka Goto gets up close and personal

Some artists from earlier generations like Tsuguharu Foujita (also known as Leonard Foujita) have been "outed" in the past decade or two and are now almost celebrated for producing incredibly complex propaganda paintings complicit with Japan's World War II ideology. For others, however, such ...

Young artists to keep your eye on

Dec 13, 2016

Young artists to keep your eye on

In Kurt Vonnegut's 1982 novel "Deadeye Dick," a Japanese man walks into an all-night drugstore and gestures for the protagonist, Rudy Waltz, to follow him outdoors. There they gaze at the decapitated cupola of Rudy's childhood home, glistening white in the moonlight. It reminds ...

A play on the idea of performance art

Nov 29, 2016

A play on the idea of performance art

By the late 1960s, Japan's early postwar avant-garde had largely petered out. The radicals of yesteryear were now 20 years older and the country had returned to material affluence and international acceptance symbolized by the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Following the anti-art movements from the early ...

Kyoto museum celebrates the works of native son Ito Jakuchu

Nov 15, 2016

Kyoto museum celebrates the works of native son Ito Jakuchu

In 2000, the Kyoto National Museum commemorated the death of Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800) with an exhibition that generated a surge of interest in the artist. The boom has possibly reached its zenith this year, which marks the 300th anniversary of his birth. While the Kyoto ...

Every hero has a few human flaws

Nov 1, 2016

Every hero has a few human flaws

Ryoma Sakamoto (1835-1867), among Japan's most beloved heroes, came of age when U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry's Black Ships arrived demanding trade relations and ending the country's closed-door foreign policy. The old Japan ruled by the feudal Tokugawa shogunate was giving way to the modern ...