Japan Foundation offers at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome an overview of the development of Nihonga painting and modern Japanese decorative arts.
In a joint project with the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto and the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, the Japan Foundation offers an overview of the development of Nihonga (Japanese-style) painting and modern Japanese decorative arts from the early Meiji period of Imperial Japan to the years running up to WWI.
In the second half of the 19th century, exponents of nihonga painting stood forward to reclaim and promote the styles and techniques of traditional Japanese art as a counter-move to the gradual opening-up of Japanese culture to Western influences. This artistic output re-launched the technique of painting on paper and silk, the use of traditional Japanese brushes and inks, and the traditional subjects of Japanese and Chinese painting.
The aim of the exhibition is to show the Italian public how traditional nihonga painting and modern decorative arts changed as a result of Western influences and the way in which Japanese aesthetics were perpetuated in that climate, from the Meiji period onwards, with the aim of encouraging comprehension of Japanese art and, by extension, the culture of Japan as a whole.
The catalog contains illustrations of more than 100 paintings and 70 examples of the decorative arts representing each of the three periods: the early to late Meiji period, when art underwent considerable change, as Japan embraced modernization; the end of the Meiji – to the beginning of the Taisho period, when Western art burst onto the scene, generating a body of art based on it in various ways; and, finally, the pre-war Showa period, when modern Japanese art reached maturity, as urbanization following the great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 led to rapid development.