March 14: Japanese Modern Art Talk by Curator Kiyoko Mitsuyama

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March 14: Japanese Modern Art Talk by Curator Kiyoko Mitsuyama

Post  JF on Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:36 pm

For Nature or Against Nature:
The Western Reception of Contemporary Japanese Art

A talk by curator Kiyoko Mitsuyama-Wdowiak
Wednesday, March 14, 6:30 pm (doors open at 6 pm)

Location: The Japan Foundation , Toronto
Address: 131 Bloor St. W. , 2nd Floor of the Colonnade Building
Admission: Free
RSVP required: or (416) 966-1600 x102

Since the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the dissonance of two driving forces – Western art and the country’s traditional aesthetics – has created an ongoing dilemma for Japanese artists in terms of their development and identity. Although, this dichotomy could at times be a source of creativity, modern Japanese artists often suffered from negative judgements such as being ‘derivative’ and ‘provincial’, having their creations viewed as mere imitations of Western art. For example, the first major exhibition of post-war art, The New Japanese Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966, reinforced the West's long held pejorative view.

However, since the latter half of the 1980s contemporary Japanese art seems to have captured Western attention, stimulating the diverse interests in Japan as a nation. What is new about the artistic approach taken by the younger generation of the Japanese artists? Or is it that Western attitudes have changed? If so, in which context has the Western view about Japanese art and culture been transformed? This illustrated talk will introduce some key issues in the Western reception of post-war Japanese art and the response of the Japanese art world to that reception. In doing so, we will look at the development of the identity of the post-war Japanese artists.

The focus will be on the 1980s, the watershed period in the changing nature of the relationship between the Japanese and Western art worlds. This period was characterised by the bubble economy of Japan ; a marked increase in international attention to Japanese art; and the rise of the postmodernism that emancipated non-Western art from its marginalised position.
Kiyoko Mitsuyama-Wdowiak qualified as a curator at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology ( Tokyo , Japan ) and also trained professionally at the Walker Art Centre ( Minneapolis , USA ). Between 1983 and 1991 she organised both Japanese and international exhibitions when she was Assistant Curator at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo .

Since the late 1990’s she has worked as an independent researcher in both Japan and the UK . She has given lectures at various cultural, academic and educational institutions including Birkbeck and SOAS (University of London), WEA, the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, the British Museum, the Embassy of Japan and Sotheby’s Institute of Art . Her book about the Western reception of post-war Japanese art was published in Japan in 2009 and received critical acclaim.


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