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  • Writer's pictureDimitri Ozerkov

Mono-no avare. Charm of things. Contemporary Japanese art

When:  16.11.2013 - 09.02.2014 Where:  Hermitage, Saint-Petersburg, Russia About The Hermitage 20/21 project addresses the art of Japan as part of a programme to show the works of young artists, initiated by exhibitions of American, British and French artists. On 16 November 2013, The mono-no-aware exhibition opened at the state Hermitage Museum. Charm of things. Contemporary art of Japan". The exhibition, housed in the building of the Eastern wing of The General Staff, prepared by the state Hermitage Museum with the support of the Embassy of Japan in Russia, presents installations, sculpture, video art, photographs created over the past few years by Japanese artists and designed to fill a new page in the centuries-old history of the art Of the land of the rising sun. Their names are known at home, yet almost not known to the Russian and European public: Kaneuji Teppey, Kengo Kito, Kuwakubo RETA, Masaya Chiba, Motoi Yamamoto, Onishi Yasuaki, Rieko Whitefish, Suda Yoshihiro, Sinisira Kano, Hiroaki Morita, Hiraki Sawa, and others. The term "mono-but avare", which has existed since the 10th century, can be translated as "the charm of a thing" or "the delight of a thing" and is related to the Buddhist notion of ephemerality and futility of being. Surrounding human material and spiritual objects are fraught with unique, only one characteristic fleeting charm (avare). A person-and first of all an artist - must have a responsive heart to find and feel this charm and respond to it internally. Modern artists subtly feel the materials in which the inner simplicity of meanings shines. Deliberately limiting themselves to certain themes and motifs, they use ancient Japanese artistic techniques in a new round. In Japan, as in Russia, contemporary art is a phenomenon brought from the outside, from the West, not always understandable and causing rejection. Both cultures perceived the Anglo-American term contemporary art as a symbol of newfangled cultural borrowing. In Japan in the 1970s, as in Russia in the 1990s, artists felt themselves outsiders. They left to work for the West, but still in Japan in the 1970s the words "contemporary art" sounded positive, allowing the younger generation to forget the definition of "post-war art" associated with tragedy and decline. The true flourishing of modern art in the Western sense came only by the end of the 1980s, when galleries were opened not only in Ginza, but also in other parts of Tokyo. In 1989, the first Museum of modern art was established in Hiroshima, and soon, in the 1990s, the opening of Tokyo museums followed. Since that time, the phenomenon of contemporary art has been gradually recognized at the national level and has become a cultural phenomenon. The next step was the national Biennale and Triennale. In the era of total domination of media technologies, Japanese artists focus their attention on their native materials, on their touch, on listening to them. Great interest in the exhibition evoke installations, including a work Pictures, Kuwakubo (b. 1971), a simple game, but complex in action, where the main role is played by the shadow. The artist paints objects and creates an amazing moving kaleidoscope. Kaneuji Teppey (b. 1978) is an unexpected design from everyday household materials. Collected them items that have different colors and purposes, are formed in bizarre shapes that turn the modernist sculptures, snow-covered landscapes with Japanese paintings on silk. "Material selections" in the video works in the genre of "found object" does Hiroaki Morita (1973), and art - Sinisira Kano (b. 1982) and Masaya Chiba (b. 1980). The potential of the very prosaic "material selections" made by the artists goes back to the spiritualization of everything and everything traditional for Buddhism with its idea that the Buddha nature is inherent in every being and in every object - from a person to a tiny epic. There is in them and attention to domestic essence things, perceived as beauty and charm of. Installation by Kengo Kito (b. 1977), made up of hoops, at the same time like the sculpture, and the big picture from disjointed planes, basic colors and perspective. The space in her eyes turns into a plane, which makes it possible to endlessly copy all these signs and symbols of art that have lost touch with reality. A few otherwise work with the space Yasuaki Onishi (b. 1979) and Motoi Yamamoto (b. 1966) in his installations. Like combining all these different approaches with disarming simplicity, Yoshihiro Suda (b. 1969) initiates minimal intrusion to the exhibition space, placing it in an inconspicuous wooden plants, similar to the real thing. The exhibition "Mono-no avare. Charm of things. Contemporary art of Japan " was prepared by the Department of contemporary art within the framework of the Hermitage 20/21 project. According to Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director General of the state Hermitage Museum: "the objectives of the project are to collect, exhibit and study the art of the XX-XXI centuries. "Hermitage 20/21" is addressed to those who want to keep up with the times - Amateurs and professionals, experienced connoisseurs and the youngest viewers."

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