Category — Art
Deeply engrained in the Japanese psyche is a form of animism that views all natural objects as spiritual. In fact, one of the pillars of Japan’s indigenous religion Shintoism is yaoyorozu no kami (八百万の神), or “eight million gods” that reside on objects of nature like mountains, trees and waterfalls. So with a larger-than-life entity like Mt. Fuji, grounded in a regal self-assurance like a border town sheriff, it’s easy to understand the type of presence the mountain commanded. And like other divine entities, Mt. Fuji was often depicted in art.
Interestingly, early depictions were based only on rumors and exaggerated tales that were carried to cities by word of mouth. It wasn’t until the Kamakura Period (1185 – 1333) when the bakufu military government was installed that travel became more popular and artists began creating more accurate depictions of Mt. Fuji.
Shotokutaishieden (1069) image courtesy Tokyo National Museum. The oldest know painting of Mt. Fuji depicts the life and times of Prince Shotoku, a semi-legendary figure in Japanese history. In this particular painting he can be seen in the upper right corner (at age 27) climbing My. Fuji.
Yugijouninengi-e (1323) A series of graphic scrolls telling the story of monks. In this particular version (8 of 10) a more accurate Mt. Fuji is drawn, whereas earlier scrolls depicted a much more steep, perpendicular slope.
Another significant change occurred during the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). Peaceful times brought more travel and, for the first time, people began to travel to Mt. Fuji and climb for pleasure, rather than spiritual enlightenment. A standardized currency also enables Ukiyo-e artists to travel to Mt. Fuji, opening the doors to more original interpretations of the mountain. Mt. Fuji in art shifted from being a scenic part of the background to the foreground where it began to play a protagonistic role.
The Great Wave at Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai (1831–33) From the series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, this is perhaps the most famous painting of Mt. Fuji and is single-handedly responsible for disseminating the art of Ukiyo-e abroad.
Nihonmeisan no fuji (1860) A woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige that shows a European and Chinese visitor with exaggerated faces gawking at Mt. Fuji.
A Day in the Pacific Ocean (1952) by Yokoyama Taikan.
Cover design for “Hanashi no Tokushu” (1966) by Tadanori Yokoo. Yokoo illustrated many of the covers of this popular political satire magazine.
This is part of a series of posts on Mt. Fuji. The entire series can be found HERE.
May 22, 2013 No Comments
Despite being one of the founding members of the Gutai group – formed in 1954 – up until quite recently Tsuruko Yamazaki remained one of the less discussed members. But a solo exhibition in France in 2010, followed by several major works being included in the Guggenheim’s seminal retrospective (which closes today), changed that.
At age 88, Yamazaki now has a solo exhibition at Take Ninagawa in Tokyo featuring a series of new works created on tin, her favorite medium due to its reflective and malleable qualities. Yamazaki uses dye, lacquer and thinner to create ethereal streaks and gradations of incandescent colors. Her work is on display through June 1, 2013.
May 8, 2013 No Comments
Since 1994, after noticing a resemblance between matches and Kokeshi dolls, Osaka-based artist Kumi Hirasaka has been handrawing small faces on matches. But it wasn’t until around 2000 when she realized the commercial potential of her hobby and ditched the brush for a rubber stamp, which was soon replaced by a printing press.
But even though the hand-made quality is gone, Hirasaka’s matches still retain a cuteness that almost keeps you from wanting to light up. In fact, if we replaced out entire supply of fire-igniting devices with these matches, don’t you think we’d see a significant decline in arson?
In 2011 Hirasaka even staged in exhibition in which she created almost 50 different match and match box sets referencing various artistic, cinematic and literary works.
April 29, 2013 1 Comment
Using his background in computer graphics and illustration, media artist Makoto Murayama creates technical, scientific blueprints of flowers that look like they belong in a manual for semiconductors. In fact, his work has just been selected as part of the solaé art gallery project, an initiative to bring art into the offices of Tokyo Electron, one of Japan’s largest semiconductor companies.
It’s no surprise that these incredibly detailed renderings are made from an incredibly scientific process. The 29-year old Murayama begins by collecting and studying different flowers. The artist then begins sketching them over and over, literally dissecting every petal under a microscope to identify its structure. Murayama then turns to his computer, where he carefully models and renders out the prints. I would love to have one of these on my wall!
“My inspirations come from Yoshihiro Inomoto (a master of automobile illustration) and Tomitaro Makino (a pioneer in Japanese botanical illustration),” says Murayama in an interview.
April 24, 2013 Comments Off
Art, for the most part, discourages physical interaction. Look, but don’t touch. And most certainly, don’t sit. But a new series of canvases encourage users to lean into it. To just go ahead and take all that weight off.
Almost like some odd illusion, the seemingly flat canvases are made from a highly elastic fabric that is meant to sustain weight. The screen-printed chairs conform to your body as you sit into them immediately transforming from art to furniture.
The “Canvas” series was designed by YOY (pronounced yo-ee), a relatively new design firm established in 2011 by Naoki Ono and Yuuki Yamamoto. Presented last week at Milano Salone, the canvases have yet to make their way into your nearest furniture shop. But hopefully we’ll soon be able to replace all our foldaway chairs that are stashed in every nook we can find.
April 22, 2013 2 Comments
Photos by Brandon Shigeta/Hypebeast. © 2013 Takashi Murakami / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.
Takashi Murakami, Japan’s answer to Andy Warhol and that pop contemporary artist that everybody loves to hate, is back with an exhibition at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles. And I have to say, his new work – an amalgamation of Buddhist monks, demonic monsters, skulls, flowers and self-portraits – is everything that I love about Murakami. The title of the Exhibition is Arhat, which, in Sanskrit, translates to “a being who has achieved a state of enlightenment,” and sets the stage for a narrative that seems permeate throughout the show.
Amongst the large-scale, highly colorful and heavily detailed paintings stands a gold-sparkling flame statue – one of the highlights (figuratively and literally speaking) of the show.
From the press release:
The Arhat paintings conflate historical, contemporary, and futuristic Japanese references with a myriad of styles, methodologies, and forms into single picture planes. The artist’s long-standing interest in Japanese nihonga painting and the contemporary practices of manga and animation are highlighted in this important body of work.
But Murakami was also in town for another reason. He was making his directorial debut and premiering his first full-length feature film. Titled “Jellyfish Eyes” (めめめのくらげ) the film combines live action with animation to tell the story of a boy who loses his father in a natural disaster.
Having recently lost his father, young Masashi moves with his mother to a small city in the Japanese countryside. But when he discovers that their new apartment is already inhabited by a pint-sized, gravity-defying creature, Masashi begins to pull back the curtain on this sleepy town and finds that very little is what it appears to be.
April 15, 2013 Comments Off
It’s not every day you get to see cherry blossoms AND snow. But residents of Nagano prefecture were in for a surprise yesterday when their spring cherry blossom season was interrupted by a snowfall. But every snow cloud has a silver lining. The collaboration between flower and snow created a magical winter wonderland that twitter users were quick to capture on their phones. Here are a few images:
Photo by @ao_356 | click to enlarge
Photo by @inu_tsugura | click to enlarge
Photo by @ruirui8181 | click to enlarge
Photo by @inu_tsugura | click to enlarge
April 11, 2013 5 Comments
One month to create the mold, three weeks to attach the folliage, and up to five months to let it dry. That’s a basic run-down of the numbers involved in the work of Hitomi Hosono, a London-based ceramic artist who creates botanical ceramic sculptures. Her lifelike depictions of foliage has just landed her an inaugural Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize, a brand new award officiated by the famous producer of Champagne.
Hosono creates her detailed porcelain all from memory – specifically, from a farm in Gifu where she observed lots of greenery as a child. But her photographic visual images are so vast that she’ll often forget where (or when) it is from. “ I’ll send my mother a sketch and ask her if she knows what the flower is and she’ll say, ‘We have it in our garden, don’t you remember?’ “ she said in an interview.
All of Hosono’s vessels are thrown on a wheel. The foliage is hand-carved and then attached. And all though she wouldn’t confirm this, there’s probably some Miracle-Gro mixed in there as well.
April 9, 2013 1 Comment
200 Artworks, 12 islands and 108 days. The 2013 Setouchi Triennale kicked off on March 20th and will run all the way through November 4, 2013. This time the festival is divided into 3 seasons – Spring, Summer and Fall, with artworks rotating on and off during different seasons. It’s the perfect getaway and a great way to experience both the great outdoors and an outdoor museum with a diverse display of environmental and site-specific work.
“The power to attract people to all of the individualistic islands lies with the art and architecture that has developed there,” says the organizers. “These aspects are an art form whose purpose lies in getting people involved with nature, amid the beautiful natural setting that is inherent to the Setouchi area.”
If you do go, be sure to download the new and improved app courtesy of Kenya Hara (who also designed the posters and overall look). It will help you navigate where different artworks are located and how to get to them.
Here are some of the highlights that I would like to see if I went. You can also check out some of the old articles we’ve written on the Setouchi art movement.
Particles in the Air by Noe Aoki
Rust-covered shafts of Corten (weathering) steel straddle a water tank embedded in the ground. Circular hoops hover in the air above like dancing particles.
Tom Na H-iu by Mariko Mori
This contemporary monument is a symbol of life and death. The sculpture, which is connected to the Kamioka Observatory by computer, glows each time a supernova explosion is recorded, signaling the death of a star.
Distant Memory by Chiharu Shiota
For the first Setouchi Triennale iｎ 2010, the artist gathered wooden fittings from various islands to build a tunnel. Three years later, weathering of the structure dictates that 2013 will be the last year the current work will be open to the public.
Equipoise by Harumi Yukutake
More than ten thousand hand-worked mirror plates are suspended from the ceiling of a renovated storehouse. Light reflected in the mirror fragments shimmers with each passing breeze, enveloping the viewer in a vision of light.
The Light of Shodoshima by Wang Wen Chih
A giant dome constructed of 5,000 island-grown bamboo lies at the foot of a slope of terraced fields. The impressive structure alters the landscape. Visitors can enjoy wandering around the building and, at night, can see it lit up by LEDs.
Tsugi-Tsugi-Kintsugi by Masayuki Kishimoto
Ceramic dishes and vessels collected from the islanders are joined together by kintsugi, a Japanese pottery restoration technique.
Liminal Air -core- by Shinji Ohmaki
Two colorful 8-meter pillars stand at Takamatsu Port. Parts of the pillars mirror the scenery so that the appearance of the sculpture alters depending on the time of day and where the viewer stands.
Unsinkable Ship by Ryo Toyofuku
A three-dimensional work using fishing tackle and household items to create an undersea world with schools of fish. The highlight is the 50,000 floats made during workshops with the islanders as well as with children and adults from Kanonji city.
April 2, 2013 Comments Off
Maico Akiba, whose series, “100 years later,” we previously featured, has another project simply titled SEKAI, or “world.” In it, she imagines miniature ecosystems growing on the backs of other animals. There are people but also remnants of civilization like electric poles or shops often overrun by weeds and vines. It’s almost like a reverse-Noah’s Arc.
In 2012 the series was commercialized in the form of cell phone straps. But I like the detail-heavy originals better.
March 28, 2013 1 Comment