Japanese art

Hokusai

September 1, 2017
You may have seen this one before somewhere...

If ever an image deserved to be called “iconic” it is The great wave off Kanagawa (1830-34), by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Everyone knows this famous print of two boats menaced by a monstrous surge of water that reaches out like a hungry predator with a hundred talons. This was exactly the way the picture struck … More


Tabaimo

August 2, 2014
Tabaimo, Production image for mekuru meku ru 2014, Image courtesy the artist, James Cohan Gallery, New York and Shanghai, and Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, © the artist

It would be fascinating to try and understand why some cultures are fixated on one artform more than others. The period we call the Golden Age in the Netherlands, which spanned the 17th century, produced one of history’s greatest flowerings of the visual arts but little in the way of notable literature or music. Britain, … More


Fukushima: Art & Disaster

March 15, 2014
Tokyo-based artist Kota Takeuchi.

Disaster haunts the Japanese psyche. Think of the great fires that have swept up Tokyo, or the major earthquakes that have struck the country at unpredictable intervals. Think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and all the ways that nuclear energy has been portrayed in popular culture. This ranges from Tezuka Osamu’s popular cartoon hero, The Mighty … More


Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial 2012

August 4, 2012
Gombe-san croons to the Karaoke robot, in front of Brook Andrew's Australia House installation (photo: Brett Boardman)

When Japan was devastated by the Tohoku earthquake on 11 March last year, one of the casualties was a century-old farm house in the tiny community of Urada, in the mountains near Tokamachi City. Less than two years previously this building had been designated ‘Australia House’ at the 2009 Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial (ETT), serving … More


Kamisaka Sekka & Hiroshige

July 21, 2012
Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942), Flowers and plants of the four seasons 1920-25, pair of six folding screens, ink, colour and gold on silk, 82.3x244.8cm

Art in Japan has been through all the same upheavals as art in the west, but no other country has managed to retain so much of its own distinctive character. The defining characteristics include a respect for tradition that shines through even in a critical or satirical mode; a love of beauty and craftsmanship; and … More


Masami Teraoka, Migration

June 2, 2012
Masami Teraoka: New Wave Series / Christine at Hanauma Bay 1992 watercolour on paper 56.5 x 75.0 cm

One of the strangest developments in the Sydney art scene is the sudden upsurge of galleries showing and selling high priced international art. This is surprising, given the fact that these are dismal times for retail and the art business is essentially retail with delusions of grandeur. There are only two explanations: either there are … More


Tokujin Yoshioka, Shen Shaomin & Chun Kwang-Young

December 3, 2011
Tokujin Yoshioka, Waterfall installation

There is an emerging trend in town: slipper art, and it has nothing to do with the new Speaker in Federal Parliament. At two venues this week the viewer is asked to slip a protective covering over his or her shoes, so as not to soil the art. This is slightly at odds with the … More


The Golden Journey

May 16, 2009
Kitagawa Utamaro, Hairdresser (Kamiyui), c.1797–98, colour woodblock print, 38.0 x 7.6 cm

Late last year the Art Gallery of NSW held a small but fascinating show celebrating the thousandth anniversary of Genji Monogatari – often hailed as the world’s first novel. One of the delights of that exhibition was the sense of cultural continuity that ran through the display, from the decorated screens of the early 1600s … More