Hybridity and eclecticism may be key concepts in much contemporary art, yet they are not new phenomena. In the Taisho Era (1912-1926), Tetsugoro Yorozu virtually personified the idea of hybrid art: As Japan rushed toward modernization, he not only experimented with the very latest forms of Western art then flooding in, but re-examined aspects of Asian art being neglected.

A comprehensive new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Hayama reviews Yorozu's career, bringing together more than 400 of his artworks in various media, with 100 of them being displayed in rotation during the exhibition run. "Yorozu Tetsugoro 1885-1927" took over two years to plan and opens to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the artist's untimely death.

In the first room, an early interest in impressionism is evident in the soft, pale tones of a view of a shrine from 1909. By this time, Yorozu was studying in the Department of Western Art at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (present-day Tokyo University of the Arts). There, he threw himself into mastering figure painting, which was at the core of the curriculum. Heading the department was Kuroda Seiki (1866-1924), one of the foremost champions of 19th- century Western-style painting in Japan at that time.