Topics

Asia in the wings of Japan's art scene

by

"Tis the season to be jolly ... circumspect. As regards art, despite suggestions from some art professionals that biennials and other recurring art festivals are an exhausted format, 2017 offered up an embarrassment of riches, some more embarrassing than others as it turned out. The conjunction of the five-yearly Documenta, the ...

Dec 12, 2017

Bohemia along the Sumida: In search of cultural capital

by

On paper, the Japanese government supports the arts, which are considered important vehicles for promoting Japanese culture globally, enhancing the country's image as a tourist destination and stimulating declining regional economies. But, where does the content for Japan's increasing number of art festivals actually ...

Hokusai's great wave that swept Europe

Dec 5, 2017

Hokusai's great wave that swept Europe

by

Innovative, creative, and immensely prolific, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was celebrated during his lifetime in his native Japan. His works were among the first major examples of Japanese art to be widely appreciated overseas in the second half of the 19th century. "Hokusai and Japonisme" at ...

The beginning, end and rebirth of sculpture

Nov 28, 2017

The beginning, end and rebirth of sculpture

by

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 ...

The maven of Japanese sword fittings

Nov 21, 2017

The maven of Japanese sword fittings

by

The special exhibition "Pinnacle of Elegance: Sword Fittings of the Mitsumura Collection" at the Nezu Museum offers a fascinating look at the collection that Toshimo Mitsumura (1877-1955), a wealthy businessman, amassed at the end of the Meiji Era (1868-1912). Mitsumura's passion for swords is ...

1968: The year Japan truly raised its voice

Nov 19, 2017

1968: The year Japan truly raised its voice

by

During a recent conversation with a student in his sixth year at a university renowned to be an incubator for Japanese politicians, 23-year-old Atsugi Fukuhara tells me that he wants to stay a student forever. The past five years have consisted of a lot of ...

Sachiko Kodama's laws of attraction

Nov 14, 2017

Sachiko Kodama's laws of attraction

by

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 ...

Be in the right frame of mind for  Roger Ballen

Nov 7, 2017

Be in the right frame of mind for Roger Ballen

by

In one of Roger Ballen's most well-known images, a picture of F. de Bruin of the Orange Free State prison service, the elderly sergeant looks out at us with the forlorn look of a tired beagle, not at all the face of an enforcer ...

What makes a National Treasure?

Oct 31, 2017

What makes a National Treasure?

by

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, ...

Motonobu: The father of Kano styles

Oct 24, 2017

Motonobu: The father of Kano styles

by

A family-run enterprise, the Kano school of painting was a consistent force in Japan's art world for more than 300 years, from the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) up until its fortune waned in the 19th century. "Celebrating a Decade in Roppongi, Kano Motonobu: All Under ...