Over the recent years, interest in Japanese art exhibitions have been increasing. Looking back to the past 3 years, the staff at Waraku Magazine label 2015 the year of Rimpa art, 2016 the year of artist Ito Jakuchu, and 2017 was undoubtedly the year of Japanese National Treasures and the sculptor, Unkei. Last year, some 210 works designated as National Treasures were displayed around the country. Now for the big question, what is in store for 2018?
Waraku Magazine suggests 10 trends in their February・March issue based on upcoming exhibits. Below, let’s focus on 3 in particular that could resonate with foreign viewers.
1) Rimpa’s popularity remains steadfast!
Easy to understand, beautiful, and fun, artwork in the 琳派 (Rimpa) style has firmly established itself as one of Japan’s representative arts. Not only are the works themselves charming, but another factor behind their popularity is the fact that there are many opportunities to view Rimpa works in exhibits. For example, 尾形光琳 (Ogata Korin’s) “Red and White Plum Blossoms” (pictured above) and “Irises” screens go on display every year around the time that the respective flowers are in bloom. The MOA Museum of Art is currently displaying “Red and White Plum Blossoms” until March 13 and “Irises” will exhibit at the Nezu Museum during the Golden Week holidays in May. See below for details and other Rimpa exhibitions.
Museum National Treasure Collection: Ogata Korin’s Red and White Plum Blossoms
Venue: MOA Museum of Art
Exhibition schedule: Now～March 13, 2018
The Elegant Flower and Bird Painting of the Edo Rimpa School
Venue: Hosomi Museum
Exhibition schedule: March 3～April 15, 2018
Korin and Kenzan: Brother Artists, Resonating Aesthetics
Venue: Nezu Museum
May 12～July 8, 2018
The Rimpa School – from Tawaraya Sōtatsu to Tanaka Ikkō (tentative)
Venue: Yamatane Museum of Art
Exhibition schedule: May 12～July 8, 2018
2) Ito Jakuchu stars among Japanese art going abroad!
The Kyoto-based 18th century artist, 伊藤若冲 (Ito Jakuchu) is monopolizing talk of Japanese art again this year! But not just in Japan, abroad, too! Flower-and-bird paintings from his masterpiece series, Colorful Realm of Living Beings (one of which is pictured above), will show at the Petit Palais later this year for about a month as a highlight of the Japonismes 2018 expo in Paris that launches in May and lasts until February 2019.
Works from among the Colorful Realm of Living Beings have only been displayed abroad since 2012, and since then, Jakuchu has been gaining a following abroad. It will be exciting to see the reception of this large-scale exhibit.
3) Bijin-ga’s popularity remains hot!
The genre of art known as 美人画 (bijin-ga, portraits of beautiful women) remains a staple among Japanese art. Foreigners were first introduced to these charming works with examples of 浮世絵 (ukiyo-e, a genre of popular art in the 17th-19th century meaning “pictures of the floating world”). Lately however, bijin-ga works from orthodox schools of 日本画 (Nihonga, traditional Japanese painting with mineral pigments) have been gaining popularity. 2018 offers several chances to view stunning examples by well-known artists, such as the above pictured work by Uemura Shoen.
Masterpieces of Beautiful Women Paintings
Venue: The University Art, Tokyo University of the Arts
Exhibition schedule: March 31～May 6, 2018
Yumeji Takehisa Exhibit (tentative)
Venue: Tokyo Station Gallery
Exhibition schedule: May 19～July 1, 2018