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Past Special Exhibition 2011

Lacquer Beauteous —
Masterpieces by Five Japanese “living national treasures.”

4 October (Tue) through 18 December (Sun), 2011

The Shiseido Art House hosted the exhibition “Lacquer Beauteous,” featuring works by five lacquer artisans considered to be Japanese “living national treasures.”

Lacquer, a material derived from the sap of a particular type of tree and prized for its beauty and durability, has long been used in the East and Southeast Asia. In Japan, lacquer wares were already being produced as early as the Jōmon era, and over the subsequent centuries underwent remarkable development and refinement, to the extent that the word “japan” is still used today to mean Japanese lacquer ware. Japanese lacquer is admired for its exquisite beauty and the refined technical skill it requires, and the long centuries of development have made these wares the pinnacle of lacquered beauty in the world today.

This exhibition showcased works and representative techniques of five master craftsmen who have built solid reputations in the world of traditional lacquer craft while also driving the craft throughout the postwar period.

Come Have a Peek at Some Contemporary Art

5 July (Tue) to 25 September (Sun), 2011

Shiseido sponsored the exhibition entitled Come Have a Peek at Some Contemporary Art, featuring works by artists who had previously participated in Shiseido's 4th, 5th and 6th Tsubakikai group exhibitions (their creative production covering the periods 1993–97, 2001–05, and 2007–10, respectively). The exhibition content included works from the “contemporary art” genre, which tends to differ from more concrete figurative paintings and sculptures and traditional crafts that have been the mainstay of Shiseido's collection.

The exhibition featured thirty-three works by established figures in contemporary art, among them Nomiyama Gyōji and Lee U-Fan, as well as by rising stars like Iba Yasuko and Hakamata Kyōtarō.

The art world today is becoming rich with a diversity of expression, including many works that do not necessarily fit into familiar categories like “painting” and “sculpture.” This exhibition offered an excellent opportunity to enjoy a few glimpses into these new artistic times.

Seasons in the Painting — Japanese Spring into Summer

5 April (Tue) to 26 June (Sun), 2011

The Japanese people, blessed with a landscape of four distinct seasons, have long built their lives and traditions around the ever-cycling transformations of nature around them. Ancient almanacs list twenty-four distinct seasonal changes, from the first inklings of spring in January to the deepest cold of December, and the daily lives of our ancestors are almost chronicled in their close attention to such seasonal shifts. In painting, these have often been represented by a regular palette of symbolic elements, including natural ones like snow, moon, and flowers, but also by celebratory motifs like decorative pines for New Year's Day, dolls for the Girls' Festival in March, and helmets for Boys' Day in May — all symbols marking each year's cycle of activities and celebrations. The Shiseido Art House Seasons in Paint exhibition presented twenty-four paintings from the collection highlighting the transition from spring into summer. Many of the ten painters represented are Order of Cultural Merit recipients, and some, like Taikan Yokoyama, Togyū Okumura, and Shōkō Uemura are notable for their participation in the Shiseido-sponsored Tsubakikai exhibitions that started in 1947.

Famous Contemporary Ceramic Artworks of Great Masters —
From Living National Treasures to Abstract Ceramics

22 January (Sat) to 27 March (Sun), 2011

This exhibition featured selected works from the Exhibitions of Modern Industrial Arts hosted by Shiseido from 1975 to 1995, including masterpieces from genres from traditional applied arts to abstract ceramics.
Following the Second World War, great waves of transformation began to wash over the world of art. Ceramics were no exception, and the era saw the emergence of a variety of talent, and a rare burgeoning of diverse technique and self-assertion. More traditional techniques and applications still remained, but these now vied for attention with new works that challenged the world by avoiding conventional categories of applied art or craft.

Shiseido's Exhibitions of Modern Industrial Arts were organized amidst such tides of change. Their first configurations featured nine craftsmen from five disciplines: three ceramicists, three lacquer workers, and one each from metal, bamboo, and glass craft. These exhibitions garnered considerable attention as venues for such craftsmen, selected for their energy and vitality and disregarding group affiliations and particular style, to present new works on an annual basis.

This exhibition included thirty-eight works by nine artists, including early members Shōji Kamoda, Uichi Shimizu, and Kazuo Yagi, and including six who would be recognized as Important Intangible Cultural Assets (“living national treasures”).
Five distinct pottery styles and techniques represented at their highest levels included polychrome overglazed porcelains, iron glazed ceramics, iron painting, Shino ware, and marbleized ware. The exhibition presented an ideal opportunity to see such variety in one place, from abstract pieces by two founding members of the “Sodeisha” avant-garde pottery group to representative works by master potter Shōji Kamoda.