Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Animals and us, Japanese-style

                  From The Twelve Zodiac Animals

   One of the most stunning exhibits of Japanese art ever at the National Gallery of Art in Washington just opened. The entire lower gallery of the East Wing is dedicated to The Life of Animals in Japanese Art, a gorgeous dip into Japanese culture as a whole that’s unique in presentation: paintings, sculptures, prints, screens, ceramics, kimonos, carvings and even costumes from the fifth century to the present.
   Animals there certainly are, all integrated into the Japanese aesthetic, a kaleidoscope of pleasurable, exquisitely rendered objects and images. These animals often reflect human aspirations and desires, and many of the pieces are beyond the western imagination - and much of the east’s, too.
Twin Monkeys, sixth century, wood
     Some of these works astound with their sheer beauty, complexity, and audacity. Check out, for instance, the erotic The Octopus and the Diver in the catalogue, in which one “pleasures” the other. I’ll let you discover how: https://shop.nga.gov/item/752464p/the-life-of-animals-in-japanese-art-exhibition-catalog/1.html))
New Year's Eve Foxfires at the
Changing Tree, Utagawa Hiroshigo, 1857,
woodblock print
       As the excellent commentary points out, many of these animals enact human narratives and human desires, a kind of marriage in the shared drama of life. The yearning reflected is both fond and prophetic here at the outset of our common, disastrous Anthropocene.

              Swallow-tail Pleats Issey Miyake Miyake, 1999, polyester
For more read Phillip Kennicott's piece in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/museums/cute-puppies-and-octopus-sex-a-japanese-art-exhibition-reveals-our-fascination-with-animals/2019/05/29/7b4c0c8e-8221-11e9-933d-7501070ee669_story.html?utm_term=.06f70068571f

1 comment:

  1. Utah based journalist seeks contact with Jim Conoway rone.tempest@gmail.com