In Memoriam | 100 Years After the Quake
from 3 november 2023 (now closed)
With a heavy heart I present to you the final exhibition to be held at Nihon no hanga.
In part the exhibition will show the last project we planned with Elise Wessels before her sudden passing. This year marks the hundred-year remembrance of the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923. The disaster was recorded in various ways, from photographs to woodblock print series, magazines to paintings. We will show a unique collection of images in commemoration of this major event.
This exhibition will also be an ode to the extraordinary collector and patron of the arts Elise Wessels. To celebrate and honour our beloved director, a selection of her favourite woodblock prints and objects will be on display.
In Memoriam| 100 Years After the Quake will be presented as a diptych, the final installation of Nihon no hanga.
I would like to thank everyone for supporting this unique private museum, which has become beloved place in the Amsterdam cultural scene in its 14 years of existence and a recognised institution based on the dream of an open hearted and generous visionary.
A special thanks to those who have worked on making Elise’s ambition become a reality, the members of the board, advisory board, current and former colleagues, and our group of truly dedicated volunteers.
In Memoriam is an exhibition where we invite to reflect a recollect memories in a concluding chapter of Nihon no hanga. I hope to personally welcome you to Nihon no hanga one last time during our open weekends in November.
Maureen de Vries
Curator Nihon no hanga
A statement about the future of Nihon no hanga and its collection will follow.
Flora in Focus:
Plant Life in Japanese Prints
This spring Nihon no hanga will highlight twentieth century Japanese prints featuring the world of flowers. In a journey through the four seasons, Flora in Focus will explore over eighty prints that examine the diversity of Japanese plant life in a variety of styles and interpretations. Well known bird and flower print (kachō hanga) artists such as Ohara Koson (1885-1945) and Itō Sōzan (1884-?) are juxtaposed with works of sōsaku hanga makers like Kawanishi Hide (1894-1965) and Maekawa Senpan (1888-1960).
Flora in Focus surveys the seasonal and cultural functions of natural life in Japan represented in modern prints, alongside the visual impact from traditional Japanese painting and botanical illustration. In addition, the ‘language of flowers’, or hanakotoba, reflects the historical appreciation of plants in Japan and offers an insight into these fresh impressions of nature. From plum blossoms (ume) to camellia (tsubaki), Flora in Focus features a diverse selection of woodblock prints from the early twentieth century to contemporary designs.
Echizen: A new era of lacquerware design
In December we will show an exclusive presentation of contemporary Japanese lacquerware from Echizen.
The Echizen region in Japan’s Fukui prefecture has been producing quality lacquerware for many hundreds of years. Contrary to the many production centres of Japan that struggle to adopt to modern times, Echizen boasts a thriving community that matches experienced masters with young, creative students who collaborate in future-proofing lacquerware intended for daily use. In addition to adopting new designs and a range of new pastel colours, Echizen seeks to promote lacquerware as a natural and sustainable alternative to the many plastic items that have come to dominate our lives. Starting in 2015, the region collaborated with foreign designers in order to push traditional lacquerware towards the realm of contemporary product design.
Contemporary Prints by Fukami Gashū
With significant changes to our collection this year, we take this opportunity to shift our focus to a vibrant and modern display of woodblock prints. Living Colour will show contemporary works of Fukami Gashū (born 1953), with over seventy prints and preliminary studies produced over the past forty years.
After discovering well known sōsaku hanga artists such as Asano Takeji (1900-1998) and Azechi Umetarō (1902-1999), Fukami Gashū started his journey in woodblock printmaking. His distinctive style is formed by the use of bold colours and playful compositions. Drawing inspiration from his immediate surroundings, the prints feature numerous animals, insects and a surprising variety of cats.
Elegance & Excellence:
Modern Women of Shin hanga
The subject of women has been linked to Japanese woodblock prints since the 17th century. Bijin (beauties) are a popular theme in 20th century printmaking, and have continuously captivated audiences and collectors worldwide. Elegance & Excellence: Modern Women of Shin hanga, explores the numerous artists in the Nihon no hanga collection that devoted prints to refine the ideal image of Japanese female beauty. This exhibition examines the ‘elegant’ and modern appearance of women in bijin hanga (beauty prints) of the shin hanga (new print) tradition, known for its accomplished and ‘excellent’ technique within Japanese woodblock printmaking
Over seventy iconic prints will be on display by, among others, Ishii Hakutei, Hashiguchi Goyō, Itō Shinsui, Kitano Tsunetomi, Yamakawa Shūhō, Torii Kotondo, Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, Hirano Hakuhō, Ishikawa Toraji, Taki Shūhō, and Shimura Tatsumi.
Japanese Winter Landscapes
Our latest exhibition will focus on wintery landscape prints of the 20th century. In Japan snow has been a source of inspiration in art and literature for centuries. Poetic scenes of snowy cityscapes and serene winter beauties have been a well-known part of the Japanese woodblock print tradition but were also a beloved theme in modern shin and sōsaku hanga.
However, living with vast amounts of snow in the remote ‘snow country’, or yukiguni, came with certain challenges. Printmakers from these areas have earnestly depicted daily life in this somewhat concealed part of Japan. When snow country became more accessible with the advent of modern transportation links its representation changed. Seeking out snow leisure became a fashionable pastime for urbanites, including prolific writers and prints artists.
The various aspects of snow surrounding the city, countryside, and its people take centre stage in Snow Country: Japanese Winter Landscapes, with over one hundred works from our collection.
Memories of Shōwa:
Impressions of Working Life by Wada Sanzō
Even if we do not know when we will be able to open up to the public, we have been working hard on our next exhibition: Memories of Shōwa: Impressions of Working Life by Wada Sanzō. This exhibition consists of the impressive series ‘Japanese vocations of the Shōwa era in pictures’ by Wada Sanzō (1883-1967) and will feature all three volumes. These prints offer nostalgic and modern images of everyday life in Japan during the late 1930s through to the early 1950s. Together with Wada’s written observations, this exhibition provides a deeply personal account of the continuously changing professions during this complex era of modern Japanese history.