Exhibition: Waves of Renewal – Japanese Prints 1900-1960

Exhibition dates: 6 October 2018 – 6 January 2019

To celebrate the Year of Japan in France, the Fondation Custodia in Paris presents an important retrospective exhibition of early twentieth-century Japanese prints.

Waves of renewal. Modern Japanese Prints 1900-1960 offers an exciting opportunity to discover, almost for the first time in France, the work of artists who bear witness to the twentieth-century modernisation of Japan. It explores the twin movements of shin hanga and sōsaku hanga through more than two hundred prints – the work of about fifty artists.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, two movements were born in Japan, each representing a different response to this new deal and of fascinating diversity. The printer Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962) became anxious about the flow of prints to the West, and also by the dwindling of the technical skills required for the production of high quality prints. He decided to seek out artists capable of reviving printmaking and of creating a new style, without dispensing with the traditional division of labour – in other words, four people working in collaboration, the artist, the engraver, the printer and the publisher. The movement inspired by Watanabe is called shin hanga, or ‘new print’. The subject of these ‘new prints’ remained within the traditional categories – landscape, portraits of women and actors, flowers and birds in innovative styles.

Inspired by western practice, and keen to raise the status of printmaking, the partisans of sōsaku hanga wanted to give back to the artist control of all the stages of production, without the intervention of specialised craftsmen such as the engraver or the printer. The mark of the chisel on the block of wood became the expression of the artist’s personality, as was the calligrapher’s or painter’s brushstroke on paper. By comparison with the prints of shin hanga, the results can be of rougher quality and can be marked by a feeling of spontaneity, of the impromptu – sometimes seeming unfinished.

For further information visit the website of the Fondation Custodia

Advertisements

Exhibition: Enchanting China – Costumes, Jewellery, Utensils and Accessories from the Miao and Dong

Exhibition dates: 13 November 2018 – 27 January 2019, Tuesdays to Sundays

This exhibition at the Museum Rijswijk, near The Hague, is showing objects from the collection of Mieke Gorter. For years, together with her ethnic Dong tour operator and guide Wu Zeng Ou, Gorter has organised cultural tours through south-western China where the Miao and Dong people live. She has always kept her eyes open for hidden treasures and has built a beautiful collection of costumes, jewellery, accessories and utilitarian objects.

Several ethnic minorities live in the mountainous southwest region of China, in the province of Guizhou. The Miao are one of the largest groups (9 million people) and live throughout this area along with other minority groups like the Dong (3 million). Over the centuries the Miao migrated throughout the southern part of China and in all of the different villages where they settled they developed their own form of dress. There are some 175 to 200 different kinds of traditional Miao costumes! The groups are often named on the basis of their clothing. For example, there are the Long-horn Miao, the Long-skirt Miao, the Red-embroidery Miao and the Tin- embroidery Miao. While the Miao usually live in the mountains, the Dong can be found near the rivers. They are renowned for their beautiful wooden bridges and towers.

Among the Miao and the Dong there is always a reason to celebrate something – a wedding, the birth of a child, a finished house – and they wear their traditional clothing on these occasions. The women are prolific in their artisanal crafts, such as weaving, painting with indigo dyes, batik techniques and embroidery (this is what they are most famous for). Headdress, collars, jackets, skirts, aprons and baby carriers, everything is extravagantly embroidered. The festive garb is then lavished with ornate silver hairpins and necklaces.

For more information visit the website of the Museum Rijswijk

Exhibition: Painting the Floating World – Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection

Exhibition dates: 4 November 2018 – 27 January 2019

Although this exhibition doesn’t feature textiles themselves, the textiles depicted in the paintings are fascinating.

In the 17th century, Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo (now Tokyo) were Japan’s thriving cities, complete with bustling entertainment districts where ukiyo, or the “floating world,” was born. People of all ranks shared in the enjoyment of the floating world’s attractions—brothels, kabuki theatre, and seasonal festivities. Artists of the period captured this popular phenomena in ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.” Over the last 25 years, Roger Weston has assembled an outstanding collection of ukiyo-e paintings—masterpieces by the most famed artists of the day. This exhibition at the Art Institute Chicago, the first public showing of his comprehensive ukiyo-e painting collection in the United States, showcases the sheer beauty of floating world painting and offers an exclusive view of the urban amusements of early modern Japan.

Accompanied by a 350-page catalogue that includes major new essays by leading scholars, Painting the Floating World features over 150 works from the 17th through the 19th century. Each painting offers an exquisite glimpse of the past; as a whole the exceptional collection reveals ukiyo-e’s rich connection to trends in fashion, beauty, and cultural life over centuries.

A very interesting article on one of these masterpieces – Hell Courtesan by Kawanabe Kyosai – can be read here
***********

Exhibition: Meiji – The Splendours of Imperial Japan

Exhibition dates: 17 October 2018 – 14 January 2019

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Meiji era (1868-1912), this exhibition at the Musée Guimet, Paris, highlights the explosion of creativity in Japanese arts at a time of transition in the country’s history. The period  when Japan opened to the West, and swift modernisation, industrialisation, and militarisation followed, which consequently brought growth in the cities.

Over 350 works of art are on view, on loan from French and international institutions, such as the  Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Musée d’Orsay, Victoria & Albert Museum, and the British Museum, as well as the Khalili Collection of Japanese Art.

The Meiji was a time of great change for Japan, which used its artistic heritage, as one response, to help the country move forward to meet the  challenges and demands of the new century. The Meiji period transformed Japan from a medieval, feudal past  to a modern, international country, equipped to meet and compete in the modern increasingly globalised world, without entirely giving up its own identity.

An excellent in-depth article on the exhibition can be found on the website of the Asian Art Newspaper.

Location: Musée Guimet, 6 place d’léna, 75116 Paris

Article: Rediscovering a rare Japanese painting by Utamaro

 

Tim Clark, Head of the Japanese section in the Department of Asia, British Museum, recounts the discovery of a previously unknown painting by Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro. In this article he takes a closer look at this rare artwork, recounts how he examined its authenticity, and how it found its way into the Museum’s collection.

Courtesans (high ranked sex workers) were expected to provide glamorous and cultivated company, as well as sexual services, to those wealthy clients who could afford the extravagant expense. In reality though, their lives could be harsh. In Utamaro’s art this exploitation was only rarely alluded to, although it was significant at the time that he represented it at all.

To read the full article visit the website of the British Museum

Exhibition: Master – An Ainu Story

 

Exhibition dates: 12 October – 15 December 2018

Growing up in Japan has never been easy for the Ainu people. Since Japan took over Hokkaido in 1869, they have struggled to be seen as equals in their own land – only being officially recognised as the indigenous people of Japan in 2008.

Through a series of photos taken by Adam Isfendiyar, this exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, will take the audience on a journey through the recent history of the Ainu people, incorporating stories shared by Kenji Matsuda – head of the Akan Ainu Preservation Society.

Over a two-year period, Adam lived with Matsuda san in the Ainu community of Akan – one of the 3 main Ainu settlements in Hokkaido. Matsuda san grew up being discriminated against in his own land because of his Ainu heritage and gives a rare insight into the life of the indigenous people of northern Japan.

There is very little documentation on the Ainu in English and few Japanese know much about them. It is thought that there may be up to 200 000 people of Ainu decent living in Japan today, but due to the history of discrimination against them only 10 percent of that number will admit to having Ainu roots.

This exhibition looks at the personal story of a man who carried the legacy of shame from his grandparents generation and has tried to help revitalise this deep and rich culture that the Japanese government attempted to eliminate at the end of the 19th century.

Open daily except Mondays from 10:30am – 5pm, and until 8pm on Thursdays.

Note: Adam Isfendiyar will be at the Gallery on the following dates from 5:30pm to meet and give guided tours:

8 November, 22 November, 13 December

For more information visit the website of The Brunei Gallery, SOAS

 

Event: Kimonos for Foreigners – issues of cross-cultural appropriation and appreciation of the kimonos made for the western market

 

Event date: Tuesday 2 October 2018, 16:15 – 18:00.

In the late nineteenth century, whilst Japanese goods were becoming more prevalent throughout Europe and America, kimonos, considered as “the heart of Japanese culture,” were, too, widely available to shoppers in the West. “Kimonos for Foreigners” were kimonos designed specifically for the western wearer to enjoy as a tea gown, dressing gown, or as a costume for the theatre performance or fancy balls. This talk by Allie Yamaguchi will trace the ways in which these export kimonos were very different in design and shape from the original kimono while introducing some of the surviving “Kimonos for Foreigners.”

The talk will be preceded by a viewing of related material from the Ashmolean Museum collection selected by the OATG chairman Aimée Payton and the curator for Japanese Art at the Ashmolean, Oxford, Dr Clare Pollard.

Location: Ashmolean Museum Jameel Centre Study Room 1 (viewing) & Education Centre (Talk)

Click here for more details and how to book.

Event: Science of Sacred Art

 

 

Event dates: Thursday 4 October – Saturday 6 October 2018

This two-day seminar at the University of San Francisco Center for Asia Pacific Studies – with lectures, site visits, and receptions—will provide a rare opportunity for the hands-on study of Himalayan thangkas. Participation by scholars, artists, museum professionals, art conservators, Buddhist community members, art collectors, and university students is welcomed. The programme will include close study of thangkas with lectures, group discussions, and curated visits to local temples and museums.

The work of art conservator and cultural emissary Ann Shaftel is at the forefront in the field of thangka conservation worldwide.  USF will share her over four decades of experience working with museums, as well as the monasteries and repositories of the Himalayan world community. In addition to her conservation practice, Ann is a renowned teacher of international workshops to disseminate knowledge for the conservation of sacred arts in the US, Canada, Europe, Bhutan, Nepal, India and China. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation, and Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation.

For more information please contact Joyce Hulbert, textileart@sbcglobal.net, or John Nelson, nelsonj@usfca.edu. Register by Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Event: Chinese Indigo Dyeing

 

Event date: Wednesday 19 September, 19:00.

This event, run by the Oriental Rug and Textile Society, features John Abbate of Bluehanded talking about how the  ancient cultural heritage of hand-printed fabrics has a rich history and exciting contemporary future. Artisanal traditions of naturally dyed indigo ‘Lan Yin Hua Bu’ textiles are used for interior decor and fashion design. All the work is done by the hands of an Indigo Master and his family using locally sourced materials, which makes the fabric sustainable and ethical.

The dyeing technique, which has been unchanged for centuries, involves applying traditional hand-cut decorative patterns to natural cotton. Coating the fabric in soybean and lime paste, before soaking in specially formulated vat dyes, gives the timeless blue and white finish. Traditionally used as wedding gifts in the form of bedding and cloth bags, the patterns bestow auspicious wishes such as good luck, long life and wellbeing.

After 25 years of retail design experience with Ralph Lauren, Levi’s and Alfred Dunhill John moved to China as a retail brand consultant where he stumbled upon a beautiful blue and white cloth in the rubble of a Hutong in China. This discovery served as a starting point for his textile company. To John, luxury is in the unique perfect imperfection, individuality and craftsmanship that goes into the making each length of fabric. He works with designers to create new patterns that keep the ancient traditions alive.
For more details visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society

 

Location:  St James Piccadilly Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL

Event: Religious Textiles of Southeast Asia

Event date: Saturday 15 September, 2018, 13:00.

In Southeast Asia, textiles are often made by women for the purpose of donation to the local monastery; the textiles are then displayed in monastery buildings or on their grounds. The donations bring the women merit, which is important for Buddhist practice. These displays also give the women a chance to show off their weaving skills and have their work appreciated by others. This talk by Rebecca Hall will concentrate on Buddhist textiles in mainland Southeast Asia, with specific attention paid to the countries of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, and is held in conjunction with the just opened exhibition, Ceremonies and Celebrations which she curated. The focus will be on Buddhist banners, their form, and meaning, but will also include other kinds of textiles made and donated at monasteries. The motifs and scenes woven into the textiles are related to Buddhist beliefs and popular stories and help provide insight into the beliefs of laity across the region.

This event is run by the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California, but it is also open to non-members – museum admission fee applies.

Location: USC-Pacific Asia Museum, 46 N. Los Robles Ave. Pasadena, CA 91101. Time 13:00

(Limited Free Parking adjacent to the Museum)