Japanophile Monday

Hokusai

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may have realized that I’m deeply interested in Japanese culture and arts. Even so, I generally don’t consciously seek out Japan focused activities but they do have a tendency to jump out at me. Over the weekend I realized that there are a number of exhibitions and seminars going on at the moment that it would be worth capturing them for anyone else who’s interested.

The headliner of these events has to be the Hokusai exhibition at the MFA in Boston that runs until August 9. Even before I started learning more about Japanese arts I recognized ‘The Wave’ shown above. This exhibition promises to be a comprehensive look at Hokusai’s work from his 20s through his 80s. Check out the MFA blurb on the exhibition here. There is a corresponding exhibition catalog that would be worth a look even if you’re not able to get to the exhibition.

Also at the MFA is the exhibition ‘In the Wake’ which presents the photographic response of 17 Japanese photographers to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting enormous wave of water swept through towns in the Tōhoku (Northeast) region destroying virtually everything in its path including the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The exhibition catalog can be found here.

Finally at the MFA, ‘Playing with Paper’ in gallery 278A looks like it will be fun. This is an exhibition of woodblock ‘toy prints’ that shows how the 19 th century Japanese toys and games were enjoyed.

In New York of Friday and Saturday of this week there is a symposium: ‘Shashin Symposium: Photography from Japan’ that looks to have a good program. Of course the popup bookshop caught my eye – it would be worth going just to get an advance copy of Yoshihiko Ueda’s retrospective photo book “A Life With Camera”.

Also in New York is the exhibition “Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection” which runs until June 7.

Friday Inspiration: Jamie Wyeth

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One of the things that I often wonder about is ‘what does it take for the children of ‘successful’ parents to be successful in their own right?’ All too often the children of successful parents fail to step out of the shadows. Sometimes that’s by intent but I suspect more often that not it’s just that it doesn’t happen for those kids.

That clearly doesn’t seem to have been an issue for Jamie Wyeth, a third generation artist whose grandfather Newell Convers “N.C.” Wyeth and his father was Andrew Wyeth. Jamie seems to have had a somewhat unusual childhood having left school at 11 to be home schooled and to train as an artist under the guidance of his aunt Carolyn. I get the sense that while he may have had shown some talent as an artist early on that he’s really worked hard and received very open feedback on his work from one of the great american realist painters – his father. In the video below that shows him at work on ‘The Inferno’ (I couldn’t believe that was watercolors on cardboard) you hear Wyeth talk about painting being ‘drudgery’ at times but you keep working for those moments when it all comes together, a point that I have now heard many artists reiterate in their own way. The muses favor those that they find working!

Wyeth has a major retrospective exhibition going on at the MFA in Boston now until the end of the year. It looks like it would be fun to see since it pulls together all of the various aspects of Wyeth’s work in a way that hasn’t been done in a number of years. Check out the exhibition site here and hear Jamie Wyeth talking about his work below.