"The Smile in Japanese Art: From the Jomon Period to the Early 20th Century" Exhibition
This event has ended.
From ancient times, Japanese art has included many different aspects of laughter and humor. Sometimes this is deliberate, and sometimes the observer just happens to find them funny. This exhibition presents about 100 such works, ranging from the neolithic Jomon period to the early 20th Century, many of which have not been exhibited before.
In the Japanese Middle Ages, the rise of Zen Buddhism led to a reverence for paradoxical questions or riddles based on humorous themes and these became an enduring part of Japanese art. The many pictures of Kanzan and Jittoku are classical examples of this genre and, from the Middle Ages to modern times, hanging and hand scrolls in great numbers were produced. Many of these, while more or less keeping to Buddhist conventions, had the effect of making observers burst out laughing. For this exhibition, some of these stories are presented both in the original and through digital media, providing a rare opportunity to examine the whole work in detail.
[Image: Clay Mask (Excavated from Butsunami site) Late Jomon Period Osaka Center for Cultural Heritage]
From 2007-01-27 To 2007-05-06
Museum hours extended to 22:00 on March 20th (Tue) and May 1st (Tue)
Review of the show in English by Roger McDonald:
Brilliant choices reveal seldom seen masterpieces
By Michael Dunn
Special to The Japan Times
Despite oft-heard subversive remarks to the contrary, the Japanese have a very highly-developed sense of humor -- it's just different, that's all. While Westerners are baffled by TV comedy shows here, or -- at a higher level -- traditional kyogen stage performances, Japanese will blink through a Monty Python show wondering why on Earth we find it so funny ...
Interesting exhibition featuring a number of great artworks (esp. the scrolls are nice), but the order and selection of works is rather confusing. You start with Jomon clay masks, continue with (the exhibition's only) three 20th century paintings, only to go back in time to watch medieval scrolls and other graphic art. Also the "humorous" contemporary video installation in the middle of the exhibition is sort of disturbing (albeit conceptually interesting).
So, an exhibition worth seeing, but with a "flow" that didn't do it for me.