KATZ CONTEMPORARY is proud to present traditional and contemporary Japanese art by Hashiguchi Goyō (1880-1921, Japan) and Nobuyoshi Araki (*1940, Minowa, Tokyo, lives and works in Tokyo, Japan) in the new exhibition BIJIN GA. Hashiguchi Goyoʼs woodcuts will be presented opposite works by François Berthoud (*1961, Le Locle, lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland). As the exhibitionʼs title suggests, all exhibited pieces focus on Pictures of Beautiful Women.
Under the title Bijin Ga – Pictures of Beautiful Women – the front room of the gallery holds Hashiguchi Goyōʼs woodblock prints and François Berthoudʼs new works, which have been inspired by Goyō.
Goyōʼs delicately conceived compositions reveal subtle hints of desire and sexuality which are pushed further by the graphic realizations and illustrations in François Berthoudʼs unmistakable style.
Berthoud, known for his illustrations of dresses, shoes, bags, perfumes and accessories, also illustrated The Boudoir Bible, which will be presented on occasion of the exhibition. Betony Vernon, the author of The Boudoir Bible, offers a fresh look on sexuality in the 21st century. Vernon is a sex anthropologist, designer and consultant for fashion editors and magazines, such as the French Vogue, GQ or The New York Times.
The artworks in the back room are linked to the publicationʼs subject: Ten pieces from the Bondage series by world-renowned Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki are presented. Disturbingly explicit photographs of an imagined Japanese reality. Arakiʼs photographs trade under the name ‚Bondageʼ in Western society, the term for erotic tying and binding. Nobuyoshi Araki comments on that: „Bondage is to hold somebody captive. ‚Kinbakuʼ (‚tight-bindingʼ) [on the other hand] is like an embrace, an act of love“. Araki succeeds in translating endless creative energy to erotically charged photographs which refer to the tradition of so-called ‚Shungaʼ (any kind of image, which shows sexual acts in an explicit way) woodcuts from the 18th century as well as the afore-mentioned ‚Kinbakuʼ. Thus a kinship between Arakiʼs works and those of his artistic great-grandfathers becomes evident – and also point to the works by Hashiguchi Goyō in the front room of the gallery.
Araki does not attempt a clear-cut judgement through his photographs: „They donʼt offer a final conclusion. Everything remains completely open. My pictures donʼt aim at anything, theyʼre just there.“
Still, the focus is inevitably drawn to the interaction between sex, death and beauty. Just as with Hashiguchi Goyō and François Berthoud, however, Arakiʼs work is much more than provocation through bare skin or depictions of the exposed female body.
Raphaella Arnold In addition to the exhibit, woodcuts by Hiroshi Yoshida will be shown in a separate room. Travelling the world, Yoshida captured exotic places like the Alps, Chinese villages or Indian sceneries in his very own style, elating the Japanese public.
Hiroshi Yoshida – Wanderer Between Worlds
When Commander Perry forced Japan to open to the West in 1858, art started to change rapidly.
While Japanese culture used to draw mainly from China and Korea, Western and Russian influences became more dominant in the second half of the 19th century. The Japanese-Western dialogue in the arts worked both ways: Japanese woodcut technique immediately influenced the development of modernity and artists such as Monet, Van Gogh or Jawlensky drew inspiration from the abundant pool of shapes and colours of Ukiyo-e (literally translated: ‚pictures of the floating worldʼ).
The century was coming to an end as Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) was studying European painting in Kyotō under Tamura Shoryu and art was rapidly changing. He traveled extensively during the first two decades (America, Europe, India and China) and fell in love with Impressionism. The studio had been the traditional place of art production in Europe as well as in Japan and the Impressionistsʼ idea to study the subject „en plain air“, was exciting to Yoshida, a passionate mountain climber and hiker.
He developed his own style of gouache and frequently used Japanese as well as European design elements. Fluent colour gradients are contrasted with rather sharp, black outlines, creating an effect that reminded many of his contemporaries of Hergéʼs Ligne Claire. When Yoshida began turning his drafts into woodcuts in 1925, he revived a medium that had become marginalized due to the immense success of photography in Japan. Through Hiroshi Yoshida and other artists like Hashiguchi Goyō or Hasui the genre of woodcut gained new popularity and became known under the term Shin Hanga Undō (‚new print movementʼ).
The depiction of exotic places like the Alps, Chinese villages or Indian sceneries captivated the contemporary Japanese audience as the country modernized at an extreme speed - and the Western audience could not withdraw from the fascination, either. During the 1920s, Hiroshi Yoshida already had succesfull exhibitions in Detroit, Boston and Paris, soon selling as many woodcuts abroad as in Japan. As a mediator between different art historical traditions – as a „wanderer between worlds“ – he represented an important, cosmopolitan position, which strongly contrasts the nationalist paroles and movements that flare up in Japan and Europe at the same time.
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