Often, though aiming to present a wide range of topics, a general issue of the TAASA Review develops a flavour of its own. This is the case with this June issue, which has a strong Japanese flavour.
One reason for this is the exhibition Kamisaka Sekka: Dawn of Modern Japanese Design coming to the Art Gallery of NSW on 22 June. As Khanh Trinh puts it in her article on this exhibition, Sekka was a visionary figure who reinvigorated the decorative tradition of the Rinpa school in the early 20th century. We are fortunate to be able to see a wide range of his works and that of the Rinpa school in this exhibition, mostly drawn from the Hosomi Museum in Kyoto. Two associated symposia – one by the AGNSW on 23 June and one by TAASA jointly with the AGNSW on 4 August (see p25) will allow us to immerse ourselves in this beguiling arts and design tradition.
Two other articles present aspects of Japanese art in the 19th/early 20th century, but from quite different perspectives. Rhiannon Paget discusses the work of Fukuda Kodōjin, who painted in the literati or nanga tradition based on the spontaneous ink painting style favoured by Chinese scholars. She argues that, far from experiencing artistic exhaustion, nanga artists like Kodōjin were producing expressive and visually exciting work, enlivened by its absorption of elements of decorative Japanese style painting, favoured in early 20th century Japan.
The glamour of Kabuki in the 1920s and 30s is the subject of Lucie Folan’s article, which covers the National Gallery of Australia’s travelling exhibition Stars of the Tokyo Stage, on display at RMIT Melbourne from 28 June. Splendid kimono currently being produced by the Shochiku Costume Company are displayed alongside the woodblock printed actor portraits by artist Natori Shunsen.
Our final Japanese offering is an exquisite 12th century Kannon Bosatsu statue acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria last year. The detailed description provided by Wayne Crothers, Curator, Asian Art at the NGV, can be checked out by those of us lucky enough to catch the current Buddhist art exhibition in Melbourne.
This is a general issue of the TAASA Review, after all, so our remaining articles offer an eclectic mix of topics.
The pre Islamic collection held by the newly built Museum of the Maldives is the fascinating subject presented by Ann Proctor. Unfortunately, while this account of Buddhist artefacts, some uniquely carved from coral, will be a surprise to many readers, Ann sadly reports that many of these pieces were recently destroyed by Islamic extremists, not long after she visited the Museum at Malé.
For textile lovers, we offer two articles with a ‘hands on’ perspective. Chris Douglas takes us through his own journey of discovery from the day when his eye caught sight of an ornate embroidered chasuble in a small antique shop in Hanoi. His discovery leads him to the village of Phu Nhai, where the making of such Catholic vestments is still very alive today.
We also publish an article by Mary Jose, Director of Adelaide textile shop, Fabric of Life, based on a presentation she made at a seminar jointly run by TAASA and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in October 2011. Here she discusses a number of textile enterprises in the north of India, which offer excellent examples of organisations committed to fair trade principles.
Modern and contemporary art is also covered in this issue. Matt Cox’s article is concerned with the way in which the life and works of modern Indonesian artists have been appropriated by political or nationalistic movements. He cites the work of Sindudarsono Sudjojono, sometimes described as the ‘Father of Indonesian Modern Art’, as a case in point. Sudjojono’s self portraits and two biographies are used here to reveal a more nuanced understanding of his life as an artist, one enveloped in personal concerns rather than reduced to his political activist public persona.
Two book reviews – one on author Carole Muller’s images of Bali Aga villages taken in the 1980’s, reviewed by Adrian Vickers, and one on Anne Richter and Bruce Carpenter’s massive tome on Indonesian gold jewellery reviewed by Gill Green, complete the menu for this June 2012 issue of the TAASA Review.
Volume 21 No2 June 2012
Cover image: A world of things, Kamisaka Sekka,1909–10, one page from three volumes of woodblock prints, ink and colour on paper, 29.9 x 22.4 cm. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Purchased with the assistance of the Sidney Myer Fund 1991.
Josefa Green, Editor
4 KAMISAKA SEKKA: DAWN O F MODERN JAPANESE DESIGN
7 SPECTACLE AND FANTASY: THE EXHIBITION STARS OF THE TOKYO STAGE
10 THREADS OF HISTORY: CATHOLIC TEXTILES IN VIETNAM
12 NEW LITERATI: FUKUDA KODO JIN AND EARL Y 20TH CENTURY NANGA
15 SHUTTING THEIR EYES ON HISTORY: PRE-ISLAMIC HERITAGE AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE MALDIVES
17 IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: A TWELFTH CENTURY SHOKANNON BOSATSU AT THE NGV
18 THREADS THAT LINK WORLDS
20 AN IDENTITY RE-FORGED IN MILD STEEL: THE WORK OF KENSUKE TODO
22 SUDJOJONO: PRIVATE FACE AND PUBLIC PERSONA
24 BOOK REVIEW: BALI AGA VILLAGES - DOCUMENTS AS ART
25 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
25 TAASA Members’ Diary: JUNE - AUGUST 2012
26 BOOK REVIEW: INDONESIAN GOLD JEWELLERY
27 WHAT’S ON IN AUSTRALIA: JUNE - AUGUST 2012
Compiled by Tina Burge