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Tokyo tourism: Bridgestone Museum of Art and stunning exhibitions

Tokyo tourism: Bridgestone Museum of Art and stunning exhibitions

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Bridgestone Museum of Art (http://www.bridgestone-museum.gr.jp/en/is currently holding an adorable exhibition which will finish on June 24, 2012. This current exhibition is to commemorate the sixtieth year of the creation of this amazing art gallery in the heart of Tokyo. Following the current exhibition titled“Bridgestone Museum of Art at Sixty: You’ve Got to See These Paintings” it will be followed by an intriguing exhibition about “Debussy, Music and the Arts” which will run between July 14 and October 14, 2012. Therefore, all year round you will find extremely fascinating and diverse exhibitions which highlight culture, history, the arts, and so much more related to important elements of human interaction.

This article is about the current exhibition titled the “Bridgestone Museum of Art at Sixty: You’ve Got to See These Paintings.” The exhibition is aimed at highlighting the development of this intriguing museum and special themes have been selected to split the exhibition into eleven fascinating areas.

On the website of the Bridgestone Museum of Art it comments that “Here visitors can enjoy the essence of the Ishibashi Foundation Collection. It has been six decades since we began carefully to add to what began as Ishibashi Shojiro’s personal collection. We now offer our visitors the opportunity to savor the results in depth.”

The eleven “thematic categories” in this exhibition are The Self-Portrait, The Portrait, The Nude, Models, Leisure, The Narrative, Mountains, Rivers, The Sea, The Still Life, and Contemporary Art. Each theme highlights the beauty of Western art and Japanese art. The diversity of the artists on show means that the senses and fusions of ideas challenge you in each section and clearly you have many common denominators, notably the lore of France for many Japanese artists.

In the first theme titled The Self-Portrait the most striking image is Paul Cezanne because the color scheme, powerful eyes, and the rich background highlights many aspects of his art. The sternest image applies to Sakamoto Hanjiro because he looks “cold” and emanating strength. In the other direction the world of Pablo Picasso highlights the world he portrayed therefore no noticeable features can be seen. Unlike the portrayal of Sakamoto Hanjiro the image of Rembrandt van Rijin highlights innocence and a person who appears open.

The next theme takes you to The Portrait and the art works selected and the portraits highlighted apply to various themes. Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the Young Girl and Mlle Georgette Charpentier Seated highlights the innocence of young girls who have the world in front of them. Leonard Foujita (Fujita Tsuguharu) in contrast focuses on an elegant and sophisticated lady who looks extremely appealing. The most illuminating image is titled the Boy by Sekine Shoji because the facial expression and usage of red leaves a deep impression.

The Nude is the third theme and the two most distinctive images are After the Bath by Edgar Degas andWoman Reclining by Kuniyoshi Yasuo. Edgar Degas is clearly taking extreme care because the detail is very sophisticated. While Kuniyoshi Yasuo shows a lady entering another world with her eyes closed and the contours of her body expressing natural beauty. Alternatively, Henri Matisse painting called Nude in the Studiotypifies his distinctive style and much is left to the imagination. The most realistic pieces of art which are clear in this section apply to Wada Eisaku and Okada Saburosuke.

Following this theme is Models which flows naturally from The Nude section. This collection highlights six various pieces of art. The style of Henri Matisse means that his Woman with Blue Bodice is the most distinctive because the other pieces of art focus on mainstream images. The one image which is striking for its diversity and richness is the Girl of Brehat by Kuroda Seiki. For you have many fascinating angles which highlights the innocence of a young lady who isn’t broken by poverty and her surroundings. It could feasibly highlight nervousness to some individuals but personally this image focuses on strength despite adversity. Both pieces of art by Fujishima Takeji are classics because Black Fan and Woman of Ciociaria show two women who are very alluring because of their elegant features. Young Woman in the Woods by Camille Corot is also very beautiful but within a more simplistic message than the two paintings by Fujishima Takeji.

Leisure is the next theme and all seven pieces of art are extremely different. In a sense, this section is the most diverse because of the various styles of the artists. Therefore, it is difficult to pinpoint the most striking images because much will depend on the personal attraction of the viewer. Of course, this will apply to each piece of art but in this theme it isn’t easy to highlight what stands out because each image is extremely distinctive by itself. In saying that, the work titled In the Wings at the Circus by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is extremely fascinating because of the color scheme and layout. The darkness of In the Lamplight by Pierre Bonnard leaves much to the imagination but when you look very close up it is clear that the atmosphere is extremely relaxing. Overall, this theme is the most diverse because you have the natural leisure time by the sea painted by Eugene Boudin, to the non-facial and foggy contours of Masked Ball at the Opera by Edouard Manet, and this is followed by the striking colors of Saltimbanque Seated with Arms Crossed by Pablo Picasso.

The Narrative is the next theme and Christ in the Outskirts by Georges Rouault is extremely powerful by its simplicity and meaning. Also, for many artists they were “in the outskirts” because of thinking, poverty, and being unrecognized compared with the talents they had. Honore Daumier on the other hand is depicting a picture of strength and the color scheme to Don Quixote in the Mountains is extremely beautiful. The art work titled Onamuchi-no-mikoto by Aoki Shigeru is one of his finest pieces of work that he ever produced. This applies to the potency of the image and the mysterious angle regarding the lady holding her breast and looking directly at the viewer who studies this art piece. On top of this you have the majesty of A Biblical or Historical Nocturnal Scene by Rembrandt van Rijin.

Following on from The Narrative is the Mountains theme. This fascinating section highlights a traditional Japanese artist called Sesshu Toyo. He, like Rembrandt van Rijin, belongs to a different world than the majority of artists on show because both these artists belong to a completely different period of history. The Landscape of the Four Seasons by Sesshu Toyo is a reminder of the rich connection between China and Japan and how both cultures have impacted on each other. Mount Sainte-Victoire and Chateau Noir by Paul Cezanne is a completely different style than Sesshu Toyo but the majesty of nature and architecture bridges time, culture, style, and perspectives. Similarly, you can see a rich connection between Meadowland by Henri Rousseau andPower Plant in the Snow by Oka Shikanosuke. This doesn’t apply to the themes selected by both artists but it certainly applies to the style of art and clearly Oka Shikanosuke admired Henri Rousseau. The art pieces by Paul Gauguin, Gustave Courbet, Camille Corot, and Sakamoto Hanjiro, are all extremely beautiful based on different factors. Indeed, Ville d’Avray by Camille Corot could be a scene from any nation with a similar countryside landscape. Therefore, this stunning piece of art is timeless and international within nations that share a similar backdrop within the countryside.

Moving on to the next theme titled Rivers.  The stunning June Morning in Saint-Mammes by Alfred Sisley is a true delight along with Women Going to the Woods by the same artist. Alfred Sisley produced countless numbers of amazing landscapes and the nature of Vegetable Garden by Camille Pissarro which is highlighted in this collection would have appealed greatly to him. Flood at Argenteuvil, Water Lily Pond, and Water Liliesby Claude Monet highlights the majesty of this amazing artist who is deeply admired in Japan. The art pieces by Vincent van Gogh titled Windmills on Montmartre, Washing Place in Grez-sur-Loing by Asai Chu, and the delightful Landscape near Vernon by Pierre Bonnard, are real treats which show the power of the Rivers theme. Indeed, every piece of art in this collection is richly rewarding and while it isn’t clear why Café Terrace with Posters by Saeki Yuzo is in the Rivers theme, this doesn’t distract from the power of this piece of art which was created by an individual who died extremely young and in tragic circumstances. Another quality piece of art applies to Canal Boat by Maurice de Vlaminck which is so rich when it comes to the color scheme and with an industrial landscape in the background fitting in gently because of the amazing style of this artist.

The richness of this amazing exhibition is further highlighted by the next theme titled The SeaOnce more Claude Monet comes to prominence because the Belle-Ile, Rain Effect highlights the rugged beauty of nature.Collioure by Henri Matisse once more shows the powerful individuality of this artist and the style fits in well withPort of Concarneau by Paul Signac. Fujishima Takeji comes to prominence in this collection because four pieces of his art are displayed. Each piece highlights the richness of Fujishima Takeji but Waves at Oaraistands out because it is a real gem. In contrast to this is the delightful Distant View of Awajishima which is tranquil compared with the Waves at Oarai. Similarly to the power of the above mentioned artist is the stunningSeascape, Mera by Aoki Shigeru.

Following on from this theme is The Still Life collection whereby Roses and Lemons and a Melon by Yasui Sotaro are extremely beautiful. The theme of both isn’t complex but the style and power of color is a wonder to behold and highlights the strength of Yasui Sotaro. Innocent Moonlit Night by Koga Harue is intriguing because of the chaotic nature of things in the layout but the layout itself is based on order in a surreal sense. This collection is also blessed with Peaches by Pierre Bonnard, Bowl and Milk-jug by Paul Cezanne, Interior, House in Dordogne by Leonard Foujita, and Still Life with Horse’s Head by Paul Gauguin.

The final theme in this entire exhibition is titled Contemporary Art. In this collection the piece of art by Zao Wou-ki takes prominence because of the richness of the background. Other notable pieces of art includeComposition by Serge Poliakoff and Red Devil by Sugai Kumi.

Overall, the exhibition by the Bridgestone Museum of Art is a real treasure because the art on show is full of richness, diversity, and imagination. The artists speak for themselves because you have so many amazing artists which are highlighted in this adorable exhibition. Therefore, irrespective if you are a Tokyoite or tourist, the Bridgestone Museum of Art should come highly on your agenda because the richness of culture highlighted at this institution is truly remarkable.

http://www.bridgestone-museum.gr.jp/en/ in English

http://www.bridgestone-museum.gr.jp/  in Japanese

The images in this article do not come from the Bridgestone Museum of Art. In order to view the real works by all the artists highlighted then please visit the above websites.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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Japanese art and Asai Chu: the eclipse of ukiyo-e by western style art

Japanese art and Asai Chu: the eclipse of ukiyo-e by western style art

Modern Tokyo Times

Lee Jay Walker

 

The Meiji Restoration of 1868 led to many social convulsions and like all revolutionary periods you had many winners and losers. This applies to individuals who could adapt to the rapid changes in society and the art world was no exception in Japan. Asai Chu (1856-1907) belonged to this changing world. However, in some ways he was lucky because he was young enough to understand these momentous events in Japanese history.

The old world of ukiyo-e would become eclipsed in the lifetime of Asai Chu despite some amazing Meiji ukiyo-e artists. Not surprisingly, Asai Chu became involved in the new wave of Japanese art which was heavily influenced by Western style artists. Of course, it wasn’t all one way because many Western artists like Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Edgar Devas, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others, adored ukiyo-e and Japanese style paintings.

However, the technological developments of photography and other areas meant that ukiyo-e could not compete on a level playing field based on modernization alone. Also, different cultural influences and Japanese artists living abroad meant that new dynamics were at work. This implies that while technological change speeded up the artistic transition, the old order would have been usurped anyway because of cultural interaction and changing thought patterns. Therefore, for individuals like Asai Chu these were exciting times.

Ironically, the Meiji period did witness many fantastic ukiyo-e artists and it is because of these individuals that it managed to cling on for so long. Notable Meiji ukiyo-e artists include Yoshitoshi, Chikanobu, Kobayashi Kiyochika, Ogata Gekko, Kawanabe Kyosai, Toyohara Kunichika, Utagawa Yoshifuji, Mizuno Toshikata, Ginko Adachi, and several others. However, they were swimming “against the tide” despite their collective skills blessing the art world and enriching Japanese art.

Traces of the old world survived in modern Japan through new movements like shin-hanga but this area was limited when compared with the days of Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro, and many other amazing artists, who belonged to the world of ukiyo-e. However, this isn’t to underestimate the shin-hanga movement because it produced many stunning artists like Ito Shinsui, Hiroshi Yoshida, and Kawase Hasui (to name just a few). Also, the bridge of the shin-hanga movement meant that “the shadow” of the old world was ticking but fused with new changes and thinking within this intriguing art form.

Asai Chu blossomed under Kunisawa Shinkuro and he was lucky enough to study under Antonio Fontanesi. The reason why he had this opportunity was because of the Meiji elites who wanted to transport the best of the Western world and fuse this with the best of Japan. Therefore, in the area of science, the arts, law, industrialization, military thinking, commerce, political systems, and so forth, the power of the West became embodied within the psyche of the new Japan. Of course, while new thought patterns emerged, the power of Japanese culture and different thought patterns meant that you had a lot of fusions. Therefore, in certain areas “a new way” emerged based on Japanization.

In an earlier article I stated that “The Meiji government hired Antonio Fontanesi in order that he would introduce oil painting from Europe and clearly Asai Chu learnt much because his passion and sophistication grew. When Asai Chu was in his forties he resigned from being a professor in Tokyo and moved to France for two years. This decision was wise because by studying at an impressionist art school he managed to enhance his artistic skill and techniques.”

“Also, the cultural aspect of studying in France meant that new styles of thinking and artistic creativity would further enrich his rich talents. This decision also shows that Asai Chu was still searching and despite the relative comfort of being a professor in Tokyo he was willing to take risks in order to pursue his love of art.”

The inquisitive nature of Asai Chu and his love of art meant that France would enhance him personally, and in turn he would influence many important Japanese artists when he returned home. This must have pleased the Meiji leaders who were involved in the arts because the younger generation of aspiring artists had an individual to look up. This is based on his stunning art and the rich knowledge that he had obtained in Japan and France.

Therefore, artists like Yasui Sotaro, Suda Kunitaro, Umehara Ryuzaburo, and many others, learnt many things from Asai Chu. On returning to Japan he became a professor at Kyoto College of Arts and Crafts and because of his enthusiasm for art, he was involved in many clubs related to this field. Therefore, just like the dynamic Meiji period it is abundantly clear that Asai Chu was equally creative and vigorous.

In my earlier article about Asai Chu and the role of the Meiji political leadership, I comment that “Meiji political leaders impacted on art in this period and introduced new art forms from outside of Japan. However, at the same time political leaders were concerned about preserving the richness of Japanese art and culture. This minefield wasn’t easy and conservatives and liberals understood what was at stake but for individuals like Asai Chu the issue was “art” and not politics or cultural engineering.”

Ukiyo-e was clearly on “borrowed time” because of the prevailing conditions and artists like Asai Chu re-invigorated Japanese art. The shin-hanga movement meant that the power of ukiyo-e was kept alive for many decades throughout the twentieth century. It matters not that the thought patterns, concepts, and art, were very different because the link is evidently clear for all to see.

However, the world of Asai Chu would impact greatly on Japanese art because so many other fellow nationals were inspired by Western art. However, in truth, each new movement will one day be eclipsed by new concepts, styles, and thinking. Therefore, the diversity of Japanese art is blessed by each special art movement irrespective if the roots began in Japan, China, France, Holland, or wherever.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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Japanese art and Yasui Sotaro: the allure of Paris and uniqueness of Japanese art

Japanese art and Yasui Sotaro: the allure of Paris and uniqueness of Japanese art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yasui Sotaro (1888-1955) was born in Kyoto and he is famous for yoga (Western-style) portraiture. It is clear that this talented individual understood his vocation because he pursued a career in art despite his family desiring a more commercial career. Therefore, from an early age he was clearly determined and focused and in time he would blossom in the art field.

He was very fortunate to have studied under Asai Chu who sadly died in 1907 when Yasui Sotaro was still a teenager. Asai Chu was a stunning Japanese painter who inspired many artists in Japan. This notably applies to Yasui Sotaro, Suda Kunitaro, Umehara Ryuzaburo, and other artists who were inspired by Asai Chu.

Not surprisingly, Yasui Sotaro also moved to France just like Asai Chu had done during his lifetime. He moved to Paris in 1907 and stayed until 1914 and this period of his life was very beneficial. Indeed, it is clear that Yasui Sotaro was extremely lucky to have studied under Asai Chu in Japan and then under Jean-Paul Laurens at the Academie Julian.

During his stay in Paris he became influenced by the art of Paul Cezanne, Jean-Francois Millet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is stated that he was especially influenced by Paul Cezanne. Therefore, the fusions of Japanese art and European art along with the rich vibrancy of the Paris art scene, impacted greatly on this talented individual. However, with the outbreak of World War One he had to return to Japan but Paris had clearly inspired him during his stay in France.

Yasui Sotaro, Umehara Ryuuzaburo, Ishii Hakutei, and Fujishima Takeji, had all gained from their experience in France. They also studied in this country in the same timeframe. Indeed, the power of France influenced Ishi Hakutei to introduce the art of Rodin and Renoir to the Tokyo art scene.

The following decade witnessed recurring problems related to the health of Yasui Sotaro but from an art point of view it was a time of further growth. Yasui Sotaro in this period focused on vibrant colors and outlines which were clear. Therefore, you can notice his style within the landscapes and portraits that he produced. Also, traditional Nihonga techniques fused naturally with realism and other thought patterns that he learnt  in France.

Notable art pieces by Yasui Sotaro include Black-haired Woman, Portrait of a Woman,  Early Summer, Autumn at Lake Towada, A Suburb of Kyoto, Girl in New-Year Clothes, Roses, and Chin-Jung.However, throughout his career he produced many stunning pieces of art which have blessed the art world.

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japanese art and culture: Asai Chu and Western style art movement

Japanese art and culture: Asai Chu and Western style art movement

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Asai Chu (1856-1907) was a young boy when the Meiji Restoration of 1868 began and just like this period of Japanese history he also was curious about the outside world. Times were changing rapidly and the familiarity of the Edo period was now being challenged by new forces. Therefore, when Asai Chu was a young adult he felt this new vibrancy and many doors soon opened up for this talented individual.

In 1873 he moved to Tokyo to study English but the pull of art gained further momentum and after enrolling under Kunisawa Shinkuro a new world would unravel for Asai Chu.  At the same time, the Meiji leaders were keen to focus on many aspects of Western nations and this applies to the arts, science, modernization, industrialization, law, and many other important areas. This turned to be a rich blessing for Asai Chu because while studying at the Kobubijutsu Gakko in the mid-1870s he studied under Antonio Fontanesi.

The Meiji government hired Antonio Fontanesi in order that he would introduce oil painting from Europe and clearly Asai Chu learnt much because his passion and sophistication grew. When Asai Chu was in his forties he resigned from being a professor in Tokyo and moved to France for two years. This decision was wise because by studying at an impressionist art school he managed to enhance his artistic skill and techniques.

Also, the cultural aspect of studying in France meant that new styles of thinking and artistic creativity would further enrich his rich talents. This decision also shows that Asai Chu was still searching and despite the relative comfort of being a professor in Tokyo he was willing to take risks in order to pursue his love of art.

He stayed in France for two years and on his return to Japan he became a professor at the Kyoto College of Arts and Crafts. Like before, Asai Chu became involved in various clubs and he founded the Kansai Arts Institute in the early twentieth century. This aspect of Asai Chu blessed the art world in Japan because he influenced many aspiring artists and traditional artists who were firmly established.

In Kansai he taught Yasui Sotaro, Suda Kunitaro, Umehara Ryuzaburo, and many other artists, who were blessed with abundant skills in the field of art. From being born in Sakura in Kanto to moving to Tokyo, France, and Kansai, the same energy was maintained throughout his life. Therefore, Asai Chu influenced many individuals and laid the foundation for many important institutions.

Katrina Neumann comments about the stunning artwork by Asai Chu called “Harvest” that “Asai Chu, one of Japan’s most prominent painters in adhering to the Westernization trend, paints his distinguished painting titled Harvest. This piece is remarkable in the fact that it demonstrates the figures of the painting, from an Asian background, dominating the picture plane and owns the land or is manhandling the land; in a way that is far less harmonious than Eitoku’s Rakuchu Rakugai Zu from 1590 or the struggle that is visible in Hokusai’s The Great Wave of Kanagawa from 1832. The subject is no longer about the figure being congruent with nature, but the figure owning nature within the industrial revolution context and environment.”

Meiji political leaders impacted on art in this period and introduced new art forms from outside of Japan. However, at the same time political leaders were concerned about preserving the richness of Japanese art and culture. This minefield wasn’t easy and conservatives and liberals understood what was at stake but for individuals like Asai Chu the issue was “art” and not politics or cultural engineering.

Asai Chu was “a clear son of the positive aspects of the Meiji spirit.”

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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