What makes a National Treasure?

Art 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

Art 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

Art 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

Art 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

Art 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

Art 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

Art 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

Art 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

Art 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

Art 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 ...