While painting is preeminent in the 90-odd works shown in “Collection: The Aesthetics of Contemporary Japan” at the National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO), it is mostly peripheral to the better-known Japanese aesthetic concepts.
There is none of the rustic simplicity of wabi-sabi, the court elegance of miyabi, the Edo city chic of iki or the more restrained sui of Kyoto comportment. Nor are there fathomless yūgen depths to plumb, or even the limited-use kawaii. Most Japanese aesthetic concepts are historical and art form-specific. Postwar Japanese painting, it seems, exists in an aesthetic concept vacuum.