Exhibition: Diligence and Elegance – The Nature of Japanese Textiles

Exhibition dates: 12 July 2017 – 21 January 2018

Diligence and Elegance: The Nature of Japanese Textiles presents over 50 textiles and garments from the Textile Museum of Canada’s collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century artifacts made in Japan for both everyday and occasional use. Luxurious silk and gold fabrics produced in Kyoto’s professional weaving workshops are juxtaposed with domestic indigo-dyed cotton, plant-fibre cloth, and silk kimonos crafted in an astonishing spectrum of time-honoured techniques – weaving, dyeing, hand painting, gold foil application and embroidery – that exemplify venerable social and cultural values. The exhibition focuses on the highly refined skills and materials by which textiles have been constructed and decorated over centuries, and on how diligence and ingenuity have shaped their timeless beauty. The persistence of traditions seen in such rigorously executed textiles has come to embody the heart of Japanese aesthetics. Every material, colour and technique has a story to tell.

Diligence and Elegance features the contemporary work of Hiroko Karuno and Keiko Shintani, two Japanese-Canadians whose consummate craftsmanship and philosophies are profoundly connected to the evolution of Japanese textile traditions of spinning, dyeing and weaving. Their internationally renowned artistic achievements are testimony to the ethics of labour associated with a lifelong investment of time, practice and precision; they position living traditions as opportunities for personal reflection and the acknowledgement of the significance of collective human accomplishments.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Exhibition: Josef Franks – Patterns, Furniture, Painting

fashion-textile-museum-josef-frank

Exhibition dates: 28 January – 7 May 2017

Explore the work of designer and artist Josef Frank (1885–1967) in the first-ever UK exhibition of his textiles. The Austrian-born architect moved to Sweden in 1933, where he developed his colourful brand of modernism, working with Estrid Ericson on furniture, glassware, lighting and interior design ideas. Together they redefined what is regarded as Swedish Modern. This exhibition in association with Millesgården, Stockholm highlights Frank’s vibrant fabric designs for Svenskt Tenn alongside a number of his previously unknown watercolours.

While this isn’t Asian, by any stretch of the imagination, I saw an exhibition of Josef Frank’s work in Vienna this time last year (possibly the very same one), and I can highly recommend it.

For more information, visit the website of the Fashion and Textile Museum, London.

Exhibition: The Spun Universe – Wixárika (Huichol) Yarn Paintings

fowler-museum-spun-universe

Exhibition dates: 14 August – 4 December 2016

The Wixárika people, commonly referred to as the Huichol, traditionally reside in Western Mexico. Since the 1960s, Wixárika artists have garnered international acclaim for their paintings (nierakate) composed of colourful yarn attached to wooden boards with beeswax. Inspired by mythology and shamanic visions associated with the use of the hallucinogenic ‘divine cactus’, peyote (Lophophora williamsii), the paintings are thickly populated with images of sacred animals, humanoid ancestral figures, holy plants and important ritual objects.

Highlighted in this exhibition at the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, are early works by Ramón Medina Silva, a Wixárika artist who played a major role in the global popularization of nierakate. A master at translat­ing belief and ritual into stunningly arranged strands of spun fibre, Silva’s yarn paintings pulse with vivid depictions of the Wixárika cosmos.

For more information, please visit the website of the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

Exhibition: Expressions of Nature in Korean Art

Met Museum - Expressions of Nature in Korean Art

Exhibition dates: open until 18 September 2016

This installation at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, drawn entirely from the permanent collection of the Met and ranging from the fourth century BC to today, explores multifaceted depictions of nature in Korean art. The display shows how select motifs, especially plants and animals, have been illustrated on ceramics, painting, sculpture, lacquer and textiles, and what they mean. Some types of images and symbols are nearly universal across East Asia; others are specific to Korea. One section of the exhibit demonstrates a Korean penchant for abstraction and for amplifying the qualities of natural materials or distilling form and colour.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

Exhibition: Mingei of Japan – Treasures New and Old from the Museum’s Collection

Mingei International Museum - Mingei of Japan

Exhibition dates: 2 April – 2 October 2016

After the Mingei International Museum’s year and a half devoted to American folk art, craft and design it seems appropriate to return to Mingei’s origins and to plumb again the rich core of the museum’s collection, its Japanese arts of daily life. Brief selections from Soetsu Yanagi’s writings (he coined the word mingei) accompany and give context to a wide range of objects, not thought of as art until Yanagi’s inspired insight, but today recognised as beautiful and timeless.

Recent gifts and purchases will be featured along with long-held objects that are well-known to museum members and much admired by them. Among donated treasures to be seen for the first time will be important textiles: indigo-dyed bedclothes, futon covers, door hangings, wrapping cloths, kimono, kimono belts made from recycled material and painted Boys’ Day and birthday banners.

A large selection from 153 mostly nineteenth-century Shinto ema paintings just acquired by purchase will also be exhibited for the first time. These are folk paintings, depictive of animals familiar and exotic, of vegetables and people in a truly disarming manner. They were sold at shrines (and still are) and hung there by devotees as offerings to accompany prayers.

Among familiar treasures will be baskets, soba cups, tea kettles and pots, cabinets, distinctive coats of the Ainu (Japan’s indigenous people), kimono of national treasure Keisuke Serizawa, a selection of anonymous pottery as well as that of famed potters Kanjiro Kawai, Shoji Hamada and Tatsuzo Shimaoka.

For more information, visit the website of the Mingei International Museum, San Diego, California, USA.

Exhibition: The Tales we Tell – Indian Warli Painting

V&A - Indian Warli Painting

Exhibition dates: open until 6 November 2016

This exhibition presents a rare insight into Warli, a tribal art form from Western India. Drawing on a store of tribal memory, myths and everyday life, it has evolved from restricted ritual drawings into an applied art in the process of transition. Focusing on the innovative style of Jivya Soma Mashe, who opened up the traditions of Warli to a new iconography, and his follower Ramesh Hengadi, who has developed his own distinctive style in response to changes in community life, and a shift in local markets and global economies.

Also featuring a film by artist, Johnny Magee, reflecting on Mashe’s practice and daily life. An installation created through a pictorial exchange between pupils at Redlands Primary School, Tower Hamlets, and a village school in Dahanu, Thane. The children use the accessible narrative language of Warli to tell each other stories about their respective lives.

The Tales we Tell: Indian Warli Painting is part of the V&A India Festival.

For more information, visit the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Exhibition: Celebrating the Arts of Japan – The Mary Griggs Burke Collection

Met Museum - Celebrating the Arts of Japan

Exhibition dates: 20 October 2015 – 22 January 2017

A spectacular array of Japanese works of art are currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a special exhibition featuring works drawn from the recent landmark gift to the museum by the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation. ‘Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection’ is a tribute to the discerning New York City collector who built what is widely regarded as the finest and most encompassing private collection outside Japan. The works on view include masterpieces – paintings, sculpture, ceramics, calligraphy, lacquerware and more – dating from the tenth to the twentieth century. Among the highlights are a powerful representation of the Buddhist deity Fudō Myōō from the studio of the celebrated sculptor Kaikei (active 1185–1223), a sumptuous set of early seventeenth-century screens showing Uji Bridge in Kyoto, and Itō Jakuchū’s (1716–1800) tour-de-force ink painting of plum blossoms in full bloom illuminated by moonlight. Organised by theme and presented in two sequential rotations (with the changeover taking place in late May 2016), the exhibition will reveal, through a single, distinguished collection, the full range of topics, techniques and styles that are distinctive to Japanese art.

Beginning in the 1960s, over the course of nearly 50 years, Mary Griggs Burke (1916–2012) assembled an unparalleled art collection. It was exhibited by the Tokyo National Museum in 1985, the first ever Japanese art collection from abroad to be shown there. The themes selected for the current exhibition, including numerous works added to the collection since the Bridge of Dreams exhibition at the Met in 2000, reflect Mrs Burke’s own collecting interests.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Exhibition: Breitner – Girl in Kimono

Rijksmuseum - Breitner, Girl in Kimono

Exhibition dates: 20 February – 22 May 2016

George Hendrik Breitner was born in Rotterdam in 1857. In 1876 he attended the academy in The Hague, before working for a year in Willem Maris’ studio. In this early period he was influenced by the painters of The Hague School. Breitner deliberately chose his models from the lower classes: workers, maids and residents of poor districts. He saw himself as ‘the people’s painter’. In 1886 he moved to Amsterdam, where, among other things, he captured city life in sketches, paintings and photographs. Sometimes he made different images of a single subject from different angles or in different weather conditions. On occasion, photographs served as a direct example for a particular painting, such as the girls in kimonos. Breitner was a contemporary of Isaac Israëls. Both artists belonged to the Amsterdam Impressionism movement.

The countless versions of a girl in a kimono, which is considered an icon of Japonism, emerged between 1893 and 1896. Young model Geesje Kwak posed for almost all of Breitner’s paintings, being immortalised in the process. Based on new research, the exhibition displays the full series of fourteen paintings for the first time, including a hitherto unknown ‘Girl in a Red Kimono’ from a private collection. Besides the paintings, there are also drawings, sketches and photographs used by the artist in preparation.

There have been exhibitions in the past devoted to this beloved theme of Breitner’s, but the paintings of Girl in a Kimono have never been displayed all together. Displaying all the Girl in a Kimono works together, combined with the preliminary studies in the form of drawings, sketches and photographs, as well as Breitner’s easel and paint box, gives the exhibition above all an impression of the way in which the painter went about his work in his studio on the Lauriergracht in Amsterdam.

In total there are twenty paintings on display, including thirteen Girl in Kimono works and one nude. Furthermore, fifteen drawings and fifteen photographs are displayed, plus Japanese prints, and two beautiful kimonos from the same period as those worn in the paintings.

For more information, visit the website of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Exhibition: Jean-Etienne Liotard

Royal Academy - Jean-Etienne Liotard

Exhibition dates: 24 October 2015 – 31 January 2016

Jean-Etienne Liotard was an artist in great demand across Enlightenment Europe and beyond. An eccentric and distinctive portraitist, his work conjures up the magnificence and cultural curiosity of the age in vividly lifelike detail.

Born at the beginning of the eighteenth century, this idiosyncratic Swiss artist was one of the most accomplished portraitists of his day. He travelled widely – from London to the Orient – applying his unflinching powers of observation to create beautifully crafted portraits, the majority in his signature pastels on parchment.At the peak of his powers, Liotard was commissioned to paint portraits of members of the British, French and Austrian royal families. A master of self-publicity, he was known as ‘the Turk’ — so-called for his adoption of Oriental costume following an extended voyage to the Near East, where he painted expatriate residents as well as scenes of everyday life in the Ottoman Empire.

From delicate lace and silks to turbans and furs, Liotard’s depictions of textiles reveal his astonishing command of detail and texture. His work is a superb record of the fashions of his age.

This is the first retrospective exhibition in the UK to be devoted to Liotard, bringing together over 70 rarely seen works. Covering the artist’s time in Paris, Vienna, Geneva, Constantinople and London – where he exhibited work at the Royal Academy – this exhibition is a long-overdue celebration of an exceptional artist.

Fore information, visit the website of the Royal Academy, London.