Blog Japan Supernatural exhibit

Japan Supernatural exhibit

Posted Jan. 1, 2020, 4:32 p.m. by T

Advertisement
VEGAS - Not Ever banner

Japan Supernatural

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Sydney, Australia

 

Some claim that “supernatural” is in essence a null word as in that one man’s magic is another man’s engineering. Now, while there might be not unlike with many sayings a shrapnel of truth to it, there has certainly never been anything primitive about Japanese art: The meticulously sophisticated approach of Japanese artists to their respective crafts is undisputed and in terms of “engineering” it does not get much more imaginative than what the Art Gallery of New South Wales has curated under the moniker Japan Supernatural.

Centred around Takashi Murakami’s monumental 25 metre In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, the works of the exhibition cover three centuries of Japanese art, comprised of paintings, sculptures, prints, paper lanterns and interactive touch walls, exploring the realms beyond nature and what has been attributed to being the creation of forces beyond that which humans are equipped with.

Highlights of the exhibition include the Japanese contemporary equivalent to Grimm’s tales, i.e. Miwa Yanagi’s twisted fairy-tales and Fuyuko Matsui’s elegant yet macabre depictions of death and decay, which are the nuances that throne above the backbone of older works that revolve around “yokai”, i.e. demons, ghouls, trolls or monsters. What never ceases to astonish and what I particularly enjoyed about Japan Supernatural is that one gets to closely examine the advanced printing techniques, which add depth and along with the non-traditional composition and perspective create a total that is much bigger than the sum of its individual components.

While it does not prove difficult to detect often obvious parallels to the depiction of paranormal phenomena known in Western cultures, the idiosyncratic Japanese approach to visualising the unseen infused by local folklore, superstition and the underlying belief that every thing is inhabit by a soul, adds a dimension that creates a sense of wonder – a sense of wonder that if one visits Japan, can still be felt and which counterbalances the conformity that informs all facets of the ever efficient Japanese society and which contemporarily can be found manifest in manga and anime.

In a subtle manner a red thread connects works from the Edo period via the classical dance drama of Kabuki to demonic incarnations of the present time and creates a cohesive whole that illustrates the high-value curation that continues to make AGNSW’s exhibitions dense, interesting and in this case, shows forces that make things very different to what we think they are, which in essence is one of the reasons I visit a museum.

---

Image from exhibit website

Leave a comment
Share this content

Other recent blogs

Water of Life - Smokehead Islay Single Malt Scotch

Posted by T
June 26, 2020, 7:20 p.m.

Water of Life - Smokehead Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky   For anyone following our Water of Life series, the fact that I harbour a weak spot for anything that ... read more

Monocle – Book of Japan book review

Posted by T
June 23, 2020, 5:12 p.m.

Monocle – Book of Japan Thames and Hudson   Tyler Brûlé and his brainchild Monocle have had an intensive relationship with Japan ever since the inception of the magazine – ... read more

Motown: The Sound of Young America book review

Posted by T
June 22, 2020, 8:31 p.m.

Motown: The Sound of Young America Thames & Hudson   For the uninitiated – 2020 marks the sixtieth anniversary of Motown Records and everything surrounding it not only dominated the ... read more

Von Max Ernst bis Eduardo Chillida

Posted by T
June 21, 2020, 11:18 a.m.

Nicole Hartje-Grave Von Max Ernst bis Eduardo Chillida - Die Sammlung Wilfried und Gisela Fitting Wienand Verlag   Ever since I was first exposed to Max Ernst as a teenager, ... read more

Endurance by Louis Rudd

Posted by T
June 14, 2020, 9:52 a.m.

Endurance Louis Rudd Pan Macmillan   As we go by Lord Byron, prolonged endurance tames the bold but there are some individuals who have perfectioned the art of concentrating patience ... read more

Advertisement
VEGAS - Not Ever skyscraper
x

Logo

Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.