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Tokyo Gallery+BTAP(Beijing)
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Beijing, 100015, China
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Tamasaburo Bando V
by Tokyo Gallery+BTAP(Beijing)
Location: Tokyo Gallery + BTAP
Artist(s): Kishin SHINOYAMA
Date: 12 Nov - 31 Dec 2011

Tokyo Gallery + BTAP (Beijing) is pleased to announce “Tamasaburo Bando V”, an exhibition by photographer Kishin Shinoyama realized with the kind support of the artist himself.

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese performing art that ranks with Chinese kunqu and Beijing Opera (jingju) for its cultural and heritage value.

The beginnings of kabuki can be traced back four centuries, when founder Izumo no Okuni began dancing in the Shijo Kawara district in Kyoto dressed in highly ornate male attire, which was an extremely radical gesture at the time. When the authorities banned women from performing kabuki on the grounds that it would lead to a corruption of moral values, the main roles began to be played by young, attractive adolescent boys. This, too, was soon deemed objectionable, and so the modern all-male yaro-kabuki (adult man kabuki) was born. Since then, a variety of artistic styles unique to kabuki have emerged and been refined, such as the onnagata (female role) tradition, in which a male actor embodies feminine attributes to a degree of perfection that surpasses even that of a female actor. During the Edo period, with the development of various theatrical devices like the hanamichi (literally ‘flower path’), a walkway that extends into the audience, and the mawari-butai, a revolving stage that allows performers to switch settings, kabuki ushered in a golden age of refinement.

The core structure responsible for the inheritance and continuation of this traditional art form is the “family” that transmits relevant skills and knowledge from parents to children, from one generation to the next. The distinguished heirs of kabuki (who belong to an elite pedigree sometimes called the “pear garden”, a term that has been used to refer to the world of Chinese opera) hone their skills on stage from a young age, acquiring and perfecting the arts that belong to their particular “family” so that they may be groomed to become the next generation of star performers. In the context of this structure, Tamasaburo Bando V (the fifth actor/generation to take this particular stage name) is a singular presence in the kabuki world by virtue of the fact that he is not an alumnus of the elite “pear garden” institution. Nonetheless, as a contemporary onnagata (female role) performer who has carved out a formidable presence in the kabuki world, Tamasaburo is undoubtedly a master with no rivals to speak of.

Tamasaburo is not only an onnagata performer of the very highest reputation in the world of kabuki, but also an internationally renowned stage actor who has transcended the framework of the traditional arts, giving buyo (dance) performances at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and collaborating on a variety of projects with other first-rate artists from around the world, such as Andrzej Wajda, Daniel Schmid and Yo-Yo Ma. In recent years, he has gradually been expanding the scope of his activities, performing in a collaborative rendition of “The Peony Pavilion” together with a Chinese kunqu opera troupe.

This is the first exhibition in Beijing to showcase some 50 photographs of the legendary kabuki actor Tamasaburo Bando V, taken by photographer Kishin Shinoyama over a period of over 40 years.

Kishin Shinoyama’s photos convey Tamasaburo’s stunning beauty and majestic presence to brilliant effect.

They extend a warm invitation to all lovers of Japanese culture here in China, as well as art fans in general, to view this special exhibition.

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