Snippets: Japan, April 2016

Still adjusting to the pace of travelling with a young child, I manage a visit to the Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art 兵庫県立美術館 during a trip to the three prefectures of the Keihanshin 京阪神. The Andō Tadao-designed building houses a permanent collection consisting of Japanese and Western artists, while the third floor features a retrospective showcase for the 19th century literati painter Tomioka Tessai 富岡鉄斎. In the lower galleries, paintings of desolate landscapes and large gestural abstractions, are hung near sculptures by Brancusi and Arp. Japanese painted screens and striking contemporary works are exhibited upstairs alongside Stella black drawings and Warhol silkscreen prints, which contribute to an overall eclectic presentation. 

Nakanishi Masaru 中西勝 - Landscape with Pigs (1967)

Impressionable exhibits include post-war paintings by Katayama Akihiro 片山昭弘, 1960s works by Nakanishi Masaru 中西勝 and Motonaga Sadamasa 元永定正, and a haunting ceramic sculpture titled ‘Devotions of Solitude’ by Araki Takako 荒木高子. Looking at a late 1930s landscape painting, it is wonderful to see the cropped compositions utilised in Japanese prints (and made popular by French post-Impressionists). The highlight of this trip, however, will be holding up and appreciating original ukiyo-e prints by Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重 at a small bookstore in Kyoto. The precise composition, simple lines, beautiful bokashi effect, and crude imperfections, present a decorative collectible that is truly contemporary with its time.

Kanayama Heizo 金山平三 - Under Pear Blossoms (1936-1941)