NEWSWORTHY

What makes a National Treasure?

Oct 31, 2017

What makes a National Treasure?

by Matthew Larking

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 Jeff Michael Hammond

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 ...

In the right light, every detail counts

Oct 3, 2017

In the right light, every detail counts

by John L. Tran

At the tail end of an unexpectedly long conversation, the last question I ask photographer Keizo Kitajima is why it's important for him to have even lighting across the image. The photographs he is showing at the Photographers' Gallery in Shinjuku are part of ...

A somber prelude to riots of color

Sep 5, 2017

A somber prelude to riots of color

by Matthew Larking

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 ...

Buddhist hells are frighteningly human

Aug 8, 2017

Buddhist hells are frighteningly human

by Matthew Larking

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 ...

Straddling East and West in art

Jul 25, 2017

Straddling East and West in art

by Jeff Michael Hammond

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 ...

A tribute to the women of '70s Okinawa

Jul 16, 2017

A tribute to the women of '70s Okinawa

Photographer Mao Ishikawa, whose work frequently depicts personal, political and racial intersections in her native Okinawa, has published a new volume revisiting her 1970s portraits of Japanese bar hostesses and U.S. servicemen near the Kadena Air Base. "Red Flower: The Women of Okinawa" ("Akabana: Okinawa ...

Painting between the lines

Jul 11, 2017

Painting between the lines

by Matthew Larking

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 ...

The scope of cultural displacement

Jun 27, 2017

The scope of cultural displacement

by John L. Tran

Mercedes Benz Art Scope is an exchange program that allows Japanese artists to spend time in Germany and German artists to visit Japan. The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art has been a partner in this project since 2003, and in this year's group show, Stuttgart-based ...

Japan’s 'kanban' are still hanging in there

Jun 18, 2017

Japan’s 'kanban' are still hanging in there

by Martin Laflamme

Little information remains about the personal life of the artisan Kojiro Shimizu. His personality and interests, his passions and motivations — all are shrouded in mystery. What we know is that he worked in Kyoto in the late 19th and early 20th century and ...