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  • University Of Hawai'i Exhibit- Art Exhibition: Imayō: Japan's New Traditionists


ART EXHIBITION: Imayō: Japan's New Traditionists


The Art Gallery at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa: October 2 -- December 2, 2016

Honolulu Museum of Art: October 13, 2016 -- January 8, 2017

Shoto Museum of Art in Tokyo: April 4 -- May 21, 2017

Imayō: Japan's New Traditionists, a unique, contemporary art exhibition, features six Japanese artists who combine their mastery of the history and technical aspects of Japan's rich pre-twentieth century art and craft traditions with the influences of anime, manga, and pop culture to propel those traditions toward new directions in the twenty-first century.


ISHII Tōru, a specialist in itome (fine-line) yūzen silk dyeing, evokes colorful images of twenty-first century Japan, such as convenience stores, instant noodle packaging, and Tokyo Tower, spliced with traditional icons of pre-modern Japanese culture, such as samurai, Kabuki actors, and Mount Fuji.

KIMURA Ryōko's paintings evoke Japan's ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) tradition, but with a twist--the substitution of Edo-period female beauties with contemporary male models creates images that fluctuate between the erotic and the comic.

MITSUTA Haruo produces metal sculptures of insects, crustaceans, and other "creepy-crawlies" with obsessively detailed and extraordinarily lifelike precision. His inspiration is jizai okimono, a term for a kind of jointed, moveable, highly realistic metal sculpture invented in eighteenth century Japan.

SOMEYA Satoshi, described by Japan Times as "one of the most significant contemporary lacquer artists working in Japan today," uses such unconventional materials as horns and bones, sand and stones, and leaves and branches to successfully challenge the limits of this traditional medium.

TANADA Kōji revives a technique favored by Buddhist sculptors in Japan from the sixth through the ninth centuries, known as ichiboku-zukuri (one-block carving), to create willowy profiles that emphasize the sinuous lines of the natural tree trunks from which each sculpture is hewn.

YAMAMOTO Tarō embraces the traditional Rimpa style of Japanese painting, creating allusions that link pre-twentieth century themes and motifs with references to contemporary Japan and its visual, social, and popular culture.


Imayō: Japan's New Traditionists examines the inspirational power of historical Japanese art and craft traditions in the work of six contemporary artists, all of whom utilize their expertise in the history and technical mastery of Japan's rich pre-twentieth century art and craft traditions. Their artworks demonstrate how cultural heritage can inspire transformational and innovative thinking, with the potential to renew and reinvigorate the familiar and the conventional. The exhibition both honors and transcends the confines of "tradition," reflecting and commenting upon Japan's own complex relationship with the past. This approach is ironically referenced in the exhibition title word Imayō, a Japanese term of ancient origin that means "in the contemporary style."

Curated by John Szostak, professor of Japanese art history at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM), Imayō features a wide range of art media, including textiles, paintings, ceramics, lacquer wares, and both carved wood and cast-metal sculptures at The Art Gallery and the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA). At HoMA, historical works from its collection are also on view there. For an optimum experience, viewers are invited to visit both venues, each of which offers its own special dimension and unique artworks.

SPECIAL EVENTS: (All events are free and open to the public.)

Thursday, September 29 / UHM John Young Museum of Art

1:30 -- 3:00 p.m. Workshop on metalwork techniques by sculptor MITSUTA Haruo

Sunday, October 2 / UHM Art Auditorium and The Art Gallery

2:00 -- 3:00 p.m. Public lecture" Artists of Imayō: An Exhibition Overview" by

John SZOSTAK, professor of Japanese art history and curator of Imayō

3:00 -- 5:00 p.m. Opening reception

Monday, October 3 / Honolulu Museum of Art, Doris Duke Theater

4:00 -- 5:00 p.m. Artist talk/technical lecture on yūzen dyeing methods by textile artist ISHII Tōru

Wednesday, October 5 / UHM John Young Museum of Art

3:00 -- 5:00 p.m. Artist talk on art and practice by wood sculptor TANADA Kōji

Sunday, October 9 / UHM Art Auditorium and The Art Gallery

2:00 -- 3:00 p.m. Gallery walk-through with John SZOSTAK, professor of Japanese

art history and curator of Imayō

Thursday, October 13 / Honolulu Museum of Art

10:00 a.m. Imayō: Japan's New Traditionists opens at the Honolulu Museum of Art

Friday, October 14 / UHM Art Auditorium

5:30 -- 7:00 p.m. Public lecture: "The Past as Future in Japanese Contemporary Art" by John CARPENTER, curator of Japanese Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thursday, October 20 / UHM John Young Museum of Art

3:00 -- 4:30 p.m. Artist talk by painter KIMURA Ryōko

Friday, October 21 / UHM Art Building, room #101

3:00 -- 4:30 p.m. Workshop on the lacquer arts and the lacquering process by lacquer artist SOMEYA Satoshi

Thursday, November 10 / UHM, Moore Hall, room 319 (Tokioka Room)

3:00 -- 5:00 p.m. Public lecture: "Japanese Painting and the Western Gaze: Notes from the Nineteenth Century" by Chelsea FOXWELL, professor of Japanese Art History, University of Chicago (co-sponsor: UH Center for Japanese Studies)

Tuesday, November 22 / UHM Art Building, room 101

5:00 -- 6:30 p.m. Public lecture: "Kōjutsu: 'Fine Technique' in Contemporary Japanese Art" by IKEUCHI Tsutomu, curator and gallery owner of Roentogenwerke Art Gallery, Tokyo

Wednesday, November 23 / UHM Art Building, The Art Gallery

(time TBA) Gallery talk by IKEUCHI Tsutomu, curator and gallery owner of Roentogenwerke Art Gallery, Tokyo

Tuesday, November 29 / UHM Art Building, room #314

3:30 -- 5:00 p.m. Workshop on the use of East Asian mineral pigments by painter YAMAMOTO Tarō

Wednesday, November 30 / Honolulu Museum of Art, Doris Duke Theater

3:30 -- 5:00 p.m. Round-table discussion: "Tradition: What's the Use?" Participants: Glenn ADAMSON, craft theorist and former director of the Museum of Arts And Design, NYC; Jaimey HAMILTON-FARIS, professor of Critical Theory and Contemporary Art, UHM; YAMAMOTO Tarō, painter and professor of Fine Arts, Akita University of Art


A full-color catalogue for Imayō: Japan's New Traditionists will feature an essay, artists' profiles, and entries for approximately thirty artworks selected from the exhibition, all authored by the exhibition's curator, John Szostak.


This exhibition and related programming is sponsored and supported by the Department of Art + Art History, UHM; College of Arts + Humanities, UHM; and the Honolulu Museum of Art; by grants from the Cooke Foundation, Ltd.; Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities; Japan Foundation; Nomura Foundation; Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, through appropriations from the Legislature of the State of Hawai‘i or grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; Center for Japanese Studies, Japan Studies Endowment, UHM; SEED Initiative for Diversity, Equity, Access and Success, UHM; Student Activity and Program Fee Board, UHM; additional support by the Waikiki Parc Hotel -- Hospitality Sponsor for the Arts at UH Mānoa; The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel; Mary and Cheney Cowles; GalleryHNL; and anonymous donors.


The Art Gallery at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

2535 McCarthy Mall, Honolulu (UH Mānoa campus)

Mon. -- Fri. 10:00 a.m. -- 4:00 p.m.; Sun. 12:00 -- 4:00 p.m.

Closed: Saturdays; Election Day, Nov. 8; Veterans Day, Nov. 11; Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24; non-instructional day, Nov. 25. Free admission. Donations are appreciated. Parking fees may apply.

The Honolulu Museum of Art

900 S. Beretania St., Honolulu

Tues. -- Sat. 10:00 a.m. -- 4:30 p.m.; Sun. 1:00 -- 5:00 p.m.

Closed: Mondays; Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24; Christmas Day, Dec. 25; New Years Day, Jan. 1.

Admission: Adults $10; museum members and visitors under age 17 enter free. Parking

fees may apply. Exhibition-related events at Doris Duke Theater are free and open to the general public.


Imayō logo, designed by Chae Ho Lee.

YAMAMOTO Taro, Sumidagawa, Sakuragawa, Japanese pigments on paper (detail).

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