Matthew Larking

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

The zero hour of Kobe's avant-garde

Jan 2, 2018

The zero hour of Kobe's avant-garde

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art's present draw card is the Saint Petersburg collection, "Old Masters from the State Hermitage Museum." But on a lower level, at the far end of a long corridor gallery, are photos and grainy videos — the small-scale documentation of ...

Accounts and Images of Six Kannon in Japan

/ Dec 23, 2017

Accounts and Images of Six Kannon in Japan

An 11th-century text, "A Tale of Flowering Fortunes," described the Six Kannon who "filled the worlds in the 10 directions with innumerable rays of light, which manifested in their colors the bodhisattva resolve to benefit all living beings everywhere." Accounts and Images of Six Kannon ...

The beginning, end and rebirth of sculpture

Nov 28, 2017

The beginning, end and rebirth of sculpture

The subtitle given to the retrospective of the 60-year career of Osaka-based Michio Fukuoka is oxymoronic: "A Sculptor Who No Longer Sculpts." He used to, but became frustrated and filled with doubt about creativity and so he made sculpture anyway, often about "doing nothing." Fukuoka's ...

Sachiko Kodama's laws of attraction

Nov 14, 2017

Sachiko Kodama's laws of attraction

Entering the tatami-mat tearoom-style exhibition spaces at the back of Kyoto's specialist pewter art craft gallery, Seikado, spectators are apprised that the magnetism of the pieces on display might interfere with the strips on their credit cards. Those fitted with pacemakers are also asked ...

What makes a National Treasure?

Oct 31, 2017

What makes a National Treasure?

Together, Japan's National Treasures provide a cacophonous ode to the nation and its heritage for its historical, cultural, geographical and stylistic dissonances. Yet, this is the first time in 41 years that 210 such works (or sets) have been displayed en masse. On their own, ...

The bigger picture is in the details

Sep 19, 2017

The bigger picture is in the details

Tetsu Fusen (1891-1976) was regarded as an unusual though gifted painter in his own time. In the decades since, however, he has largely been forgotten, mostly known to specialists or devoted connoisseurs of his technically brilliant, imaginative and emotional landscapes. Much of his work was ...

Modern lacquer recalls past splendor

Sep 12, 2017

Modern lacquer recalls past splendor

Celebrated domestically and internationally for tea ceremony caddies in lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlay, as well as rather more substantial fittings such as kimono display hangers, artisan Tatsuaki Kuroda (1904-82) has finally been honored with the first Kyoto retrospective exhibition of his work. The exhibition focuses ...

A somber prelude to riots of color

Sep 5, 2017

A somber prelude to riots of color

Koji Kinutani's entire career — from his student work to his metaphysical portraiture, which inaugurated a manga trend in contemporary art; his Styrofoam sculptures; the "Goddess of the Silvery Peak" (the basis for the official 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games poster); and his sometimes ...

Take a journey into the art of darkness

Aug 22, 2017

Take a journey 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 ...