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Shiseido Gallery
Tokyo Ginza Shiseido Building
Basement floor, 8-8-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo 104-0061, Japan   map * 
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Las Meninas renacen de noche
by Shiseido Gallery
Location: Shiseido Gallery
Artist(s): Yasumasa MORIMURA
Date: 28 Sep - 25 Dec 2013

The Shiseido Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition by artist Yasumasa Morimura, titled Velasquez: Las Meninas Renacen de Noche (In Praise of Velásquez : Handmaidens Reborn in the Night), to be presented. This exhibition is part of the “Japan & Spain: 400 Years of History” project being undertaken in the two countries during 2013 and 2014.

Morimura began impersonating himself into appropriated works of art back in 1985, when he first applied the technique to a self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh, and he has continued this thematic approach through to the present. In 1989, he was selected to participate in the Venice Biennale’s Aperto exhibition, and since then has pursued an active career both in Japan and abroad. Some of Morimura’s notable solo exhibitions have included: Sickness Unto Beauty – Self-portrait as an Actress (Yokohama Museum of Art) in 1996; Fantasy Museum — Myself as a Picture (Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo) in 1998; An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Hara Museum of Contemporary Art) in 2001; Requiem: Art on Top of the Battlefield (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and other museums) in 2010; and many others. Morimura has received numerous awards, including the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts in 2007 and the Medal with Purple Ribbon (Artistic Excellence) in autumn 2011, and is now regarded as one of Japan’s foremost representative contemporary artists. Next year he will serve as artistic director for the Yokohama Triennial 2014.

In 1994, Shiseido sponsored a Yasumasa Morimura solo show titled Psychoborg — Madonna, Michael, and Morimura at The Ginza Art Space in Tokyo, and this current exhibition will be his first show with Shiseido in the nearly twenty years since. From 1997 through 2002 Morimura published a series titled Love Letters from Morimura in Shiseido’s Hanatsubaki magazine, and since that publication’s recent renewal he has continued with a second series, Poisonous Beauty People.

This latest exhibition will feature seventeen photographic works based on Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), the painting by the 17th century Spanish master Diego Velázquez. Las Meninas is considered notable for the fact that the painter himself (Velásquez) is depicted within the painting, and also for its complex composition, in which the positions/roles and gazes of painter, models and viewers all intermingle in a tangle of lines. The painting poses a number of riddles—What purpose did Velásquez have in creating such a work? What subject is being painted on the canvas that faces away from the viewer?—and scholars have proposed a variety of interpretations.

In 1990, Morimura created his Daughter of Art History series based on the image of Princess Margarita of Velásquez’s painting, and since then he has long considered doing Las Meninas–based piece. But rather than merely reproducing the painting, Morimura wanted to use it as the basis for a new story, and the result is expressed here as “A One-Man Play in Eight Acts.” To create the room that serves as the “stage” of this work, Morimura traveled to Madrid in February to photograph the galleries at the Museo del Prado. To photograph the characters that appear, in late June and early July he opened the creative process, as a special class, to students at Kyoto City University of Arts, where he has been serving as a visiting professor. This exhibit will be comprised of seventeen pieces, including both photos that serve as the setting for Morimura’s story and portraits of the characters appearing in that story. While in the past Morimura has focused on what is within the frames of his appropriated paintings and photographs, in this piece the characters appear in the museum space outside those frames, resulting in a particularly dynamic effect. And for the first time ever, Morimura himself appears in his own work not impersonated.


Courtesy of Shiseido Gallery 

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