Japan’s best-known tiger

The time is 1786… On one moonless night, Japanese artist Nagasawa Rosetsu painted a huge tiger along with a dragon on the sliding panels of Muryōji Temple in Kushimonto. Descending from a “lineage of eccentrics”, Rosetsu (1754-1799) had samurai ancestors. A dazzling artistic genius who had a taste for sake, he quickly became a sensation in the art circles of the imperial capital of Kyoto, as one of the major disciples of the famous painter Maruyama Ōkyo. Quite a few moons later, today it’s at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich that Nagasawa Rosetsu crops up again, at a major exhibition whose title resounds like a spell: “Ferocious Brush”… Steering this vibrant show are two curators, Khanh Trinh, curator of the Japanese and Korean art department at the Rietberg Museum, here accompanied by Matthew McKelway, professor of Japanese art history at Columbia University, New York, and also director of the Mary Griggs Burke Centre for Japanese Art. And here, you have to admit that results are on a par with Rosetsu’s talent: mind-blowing. Let’s remember that it took three years to prepare the exhibition. While Rosetsu has already been shown in Japan, in 2000, 2011 and 2017, this is the first time that a monographic show on such a scale is being dedicated to him in the West. In total, 55 pieces, paintings and drawings, some of which come from one of Kyoto’s major Zen Buddhism centres, as well as German and American museums. We find kakejikus and other naturalist makimonos, paravents featuring fantastic landscapes, the famous gigantic tiger and dragon on twelve panels, executed in Indian ikon paper… Add to this the tour-de-force identical reconstruction of the spaces of the Muryōji Temple on a 1:1 scale, and you have an incredible overview of the art of Rosetu. A Rosetsu...

Tags: , , , , , ,

Cancelled auction in Japan

On 4 November, China cancelled a Japanese auction sale at which pillaged cultural treasures were proposed for sale. The press release, published by the State Administration on Cultural Heritage (SACH), has not revealed details on the sale. After an investigation was carried out by the SACH to define the provenance of pieces, Japan’s Yakohama International Auction decided to cancel its sale of relics — “illegally obtained by Otani Kozui and his fellows,” says the press release —, namely Dunhuang mural paintings and Buddhist manuscripts dating from the Tang dynasty (618-907). Japanese explorer Otani Kozui conducted and financed several expeditions to the northwest Chinese region from 1902 to 1914, and probably acquired pieces illegally before bringing them back to Japan. This is the first time that China has succeeded in getting an auction outside its territory cancelled, despite international treaties protecting such cultural...

Tags: , , , , , , ,

First-time exhibition for “Hara Yasusaburo’s Treasures” in Tokyo

From 29 April to 12 June 2016, the Suntory Museum of Art will host “Hara Yasusaburo’s Treasures: Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo and Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces” exhibition. Hara Yasusaburo (1884-1982), chairman of Nippon Kayaku Co., Ltd., and a renowned leader in the Japanese business world, was also a devoted collector of ukiyo-e. This exhibition will focus on two master-pieces from his collection, Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo and Famous Views of the Six-ty-odd Provinces. Both series, which are being exhibited for the first time, are from the rare first state and are in an excellent state of preservation. In addition to those works, rarely to be seen in Japan or overseas, the exhibition also includes ukiyo-e of famous places and other works by Katsushika Hokusai and Utaga-wa...

Tags: , , , ,

Mona Hatoum wins the Hiroshima Art Prize 2015

Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum has been awarded the Hiroshima Art Prize 2015. Organized by the Hiroshima city government, the Hiroshima City Culture Foundation and The Asahi Shimbun, the triennial award honours artists who contribute to world peace through contemporary arts. 63-year-old Hatoum was born in Beirut to Palestinian parents who had fled Palestine amid the deteriorating political climate. After the civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1975, Hatoum, who was on a short visit to London, was forced into exile in Britain. She has since continued living and working in London. Hatoum’s work consists of installation art, videos and other forms that reflect her sentiments based on her circumstances of “double exile” from Palestine and Lebanon and the issues of the world. In a statement issued by Hatoum, she said she feels honoured and overwhelmed about receiving the Hiroshima Art Prize. The awards ceremony will be held around July 2017 in Hiroshima. A solo show of Hatoum’s work will be held at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art to coincide with the...

Tags: , , , , ,

Japan to strengthen copyright protections as part of TPP

The Cultural Affairs Agency is considering changing the copyright laws after Japan and 11 other countries agreed to strengthen protection of intellectual property rights as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in October 2015. Revisions being considered include allowing copyright holders to more easily seek damages for infringements to their work and allowing the authorities to investigate intellectual-property breaches. Charges will also be brought against offenders even if the copyright holders have not filed complaints, with some estimating that the export market for copyrighted Japanese content such as video games will be $13.8 billion. The legal copyright protection period in Japan is expected to be extended to 70 years after the author’s death, from the current 50 years. Although welcomed by Industry Groups, Composers and Publishers, many worry that increased protection will have negative effects on areas such as the free use of material whose copyright has expired. For example, novels by authors such as Osamu Dazai and Soseki Natsume whose copyrights have expired, will need to be reassessed by groups who released them on the internet free of charge. The statutory damage system may affect fans who enjoy creating parodies and other secondary works using manga characters. But the government said that the legal revisions will be not have a great impact on people’s hobbies. Ryutaro Nakagawa, a copyright issues lawyer, said, “If Japan introduces a system that substantially pushes up damage claims, just like in the United States, it is feared it will give rise to a new business whereby large amounts of copyrighted materials are bought up for the purpose of filing law suits seeking compensation, one after...

Tags: , , , , , , ,