November 2, 2019 - Art Gallery of New South Wales - Japan supernatural
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November 2, 2019

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Takashi Murakami, Japan Supernatural: Vertiginous After Staring at the Empty World Too Intensely, I Found Myself Trapped in the Realm of Lurking Ghosts and Monsters, 2019. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Foundation Purchase 2019. ©︎ 2019 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Kaikai Kiki.

Japan supernatural
November 2, 2019–March 8, 2020

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road
The Domain
Sydney NSW 2000
Australia
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–5pm,
Wednesday 10am–10pm

T +61 1800 679 278
artmail@ag.nsw.gov.au

www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au
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Featuring over 180 wildly imaginative works by some of the greatest Japanese artists of the past and present, from historical master Katsushika Hokusai to contemporary superstar Takashi Murakami, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is thrilled to present Japan supernatural as part of the 2019–20 Sydney International Art Series.

Japanese artists across the centuries have created a lively parade of magical animals, fiendish imps, legendary monsters and ethereal spirits. Known in Japan by many names including yōkai, yūrei, bakemono and mononoke, manifestations of the paranormal are prevalent in folklore, literature, theatre and art. 

As Sydney steps into the realm of the supernatural across almost 300 years of Japanese art, visitors will encounter magnificent paintings, large-scale installations, miniature carvings, humorous illustrations and the vibrant ukiyo-e woodblock prints that define the tradition of the supernatural in Japanese art.

A monumental installation of sculpture and painting by Takashi Murakami includes a major new work, commissioned by the Gallery. In this work titled Japan Supernatural: Vertiginous After Staring at the Empty World Too Intensely, I Found Myself Trapped in the Realm of Lurking Ghosts and Monsters, Murakami pays tribute to the exhibition while alluding to his own position as a contemporary artist exploring the imaginative worlds of historical Japanese art and confronting the spirits and beings within it.

With its writhing yо̄kai (monsters), stampeding samurai, seething surface, intricate patterning and giant feline spirit, Murakami’s new painting is among his most dynamic and dramatic responses to Japanese art history. It resonates with Japan’s ‘pictures of the floating world’ (ukiyo-e), especially those of Utagawa Kuniyoshi, whose masterpieces are featured in Japan supernatural.

Dr Michael Brand, director of the Art Gallery of NSW said, “Takashi Murakami has not just created a new work for our Japan supernatural exhibition and our forthcoming expansion, he has taken on a new subject and delivered a work that is spectacular, intricate, energising and surprising—and unlike any he has made previously.”

The painting, acquired for the Gallery by its Foundation supporters, was created in Murakami’s studio in Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo, using 502 individual silkscreens to generate a richly layered surface.

Japan supernatural also features works by the late manga artist Mizuki Shigeru and contemporary artist Tarō Yamamoto as well as masks by Hideta Kitazawa. Rich and nuanced works by leading female Japanese contemporary artists Fuyuko Matsui, Miwa Yanagi, Tabaimo and Chiho Aoshima are also presented. These artists continue the creative lineage of visualising the unseen, their works presented together with some of the greatest Japanese artists of the past including Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and Kawanabe Kyōsai.

Exhibition curator and Art Gallery of NSW senior curator of Asian art Melanie Eastburn said Japanese artists have always used intricate narratives and powerful imagery to make the invisible world of the supernatural tangible.

“The imagination and skill of artists such as Sekien, Kuniyoshi and Yoshitoshi continue to resonate just as contemporary expressions of legend, fairy tales and spirits in the work of Murakami, Aoshima, Yanagi, Kitazawa and Matsui captivate viewers, luring us into the beguiling, tangled realm of demons and spirits,” Eastburn said.

A beautifully designed, richly illustrated book has been published by the Art Gallery of NSW in conjunction with the exhibition with contributions from specialist writers from Australia, Japan and the USA.

Public events running alongside the Japan supernatural exhibition include a lecture series, Phenomenal beings: spirits in Japanese art and culture; a spooky retrospective of global horror cinema; a Japanese art summer school and, for families and children, January school holiday workshops.

A Studio Ghibli festival, perfect for art lovers of all ages, and an exclusive after-hours event hosted by the Gallery’s Youth Collective will also spirit guests away to the realm of the supernatural.

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