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Yamatane Museum of Art
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2 Sambancho Chiyodaku
Tokyo 102-0075, Japan
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Nihonga vs Yōga: Betwixt and Between Japanese and Western-Style Painting
Date: 11 Sep - 7 Nov 2010

Highlights of the Exhibition

This exhibition features approximately 75 Nihonga and Western-style Japanese paintings, known as “yōga,” in a comparative display. Divided into five sections: Nihonga. Amidst Japan’s Modernization; Influences from Europe; Nihonga vs. Yōga; Interactions between Nihonga and Yōga; and Ryūsei and Gyoshū, this exhibition explores how each work stands “betwixt and between” on the Nihonga-yōga continuum. Nihonga vs. Yōga: Betwixt and Between Japanese and Western-Style Painting.

- Hashimoto Gahō, A Torpedo Hitting the Target, Meiji Period, c. 1881, Tokyo National Museum (to be displayed from 10/13-11/7)
- Yamamoto Shunkyo, Pool in the Crater, Taishō Period, 1925, Yamatane Museum of Art
- Kobayashi Kokei, Sanbokan Citruses, Shōwa Period, 1939, Yamatane Museum of Art
- Kobayashi Kokei, Still Life, Taishō Period, 1922, Yamatane Museum of Art
- Murakami Kagaku, Woman in the Nude, Taishō Period, 1920, Yamatane Museum of Art
- Yasui Sōtarō, Portrait of Chin-Jung, Shōwa Period, 1934, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
- Kishida Ryūsei, Road Cut through a Hill, Taishō Period, 1915, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
- Yamaguchi Hōshun, On the Table, Shōwa Period, 1952, Yamatane Museum of Art
- Hayami Gyoshū, Dancing in the Flames (Important Cultural Property), Taishō Period, 1925, Yamatane Museum of Art
- Ochiai Rōfū, Eve, Taishō Period, 1919, Yamatane Museum of Art
- Kayama Matazō, Nude Woman, Shōwa Period, 1976, Yamatane Museum of Art

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About the Exhibition

A Special Exhibition Commemorating the 1st Anniversary of the New Yamatane Museum of Art focuses on the two modern Japanese painting genres of Nihonga and the Japanese oil paintings known as “yōga,” literally “Western paintings.” In this side-by-side examination of the two different genres from a point in between, attention is given to the Japanese awareness of paintings from the West and how these seemingly different types of painting were deeply involved in a mutual form of influence and interaction.

During its Meiji period Japan welcomed a period of Western-style modernization and civilizing. Oil paintings entered Japan from the West during this time, and these paintings plus all those made in media and techniques of Western paintings were dubbed with the newly coined term yōga, literally Western paintings, to distinguish them from Nihonga, literally Japanese paintings, that represented Japan’s traditional and ancient painting methods and media. And yet, this did not necessarily mean that Nihonga and yōga existed as mutually exclusive art forms. Rather, at times these two genres influenced each other, at other times they drew further apart, and all while the artists of the day established new, previously unknown painting styles.

From the Taishō to the Shōwa eras, 1920s through 1930s, an even greater number of paintings from the West were introduced to Japanese audiences through the form of magazines and exhibitions. At the same time, Japanese artists traveled overseas to study Western painting methods. These painters, in turn, created yōga style paintings depicting Japanese culture and customs. Such activities greatly influenced and stimulated the Nihonga painting circles of the day, to the degree that influence from paintings from the West can be found in the works of such otherwise traditional Nihonga painters as Takeuchi Seihō, Hayami Gyoshū and Kobayashi Kokei. Conversely, there was increased interaction between Nihonga and yōga painters, with such yōga painters as Kishida Ryūsei, Ryūzaburō Umehara, and Takahashi Yūichi taking an interest in Nihonga materials and methods and actively incorporating such elements into their own works.

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