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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

New exhibition at Louvre Abu Dhabi celebrates the artistic relationship between Japan and France

Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Decor will feature works by Katsushika Hokusai and Pierre Bonnard 

South Wind, Clear Sky, from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, 1831-32, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
South Wind, Clear Sky, from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, 1831-32, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)

A new exhibition, which celebrates the cultural relationship between the East and the West through 19th and 20th century paintings, prints and screens, will open at Louvre Abu Dhabi next month.

Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Décor, the first exhibition of the 2018 Louvre Abu Dhabi autumn season, aims to highlight a period of artistic dialogue between Japan and France. Particular attention will be given to the influence of the ukiyo-e aesthetic on Western culture.

Ukiyo-e, which directly translates to “pictures of the floating world”, is a genre of art that flourished in Japan from the 17th to the 19th century. It is an instantly recognisable style, defined by the two-dimensional woodblock prints, paintings and folding screens, which explore spiritual ideas and depict the passing of time. Proponents of ukiyo-e included Katsushika Hokusai and Torii Kiyonaga.

Women at the Spring c.1899, Paul Sérusier (1864-1927)
Women at the Spring c.1899, Paul Serusier (1864-1927)

In 1853, following the era of isolationist foreign policy, Japan started trading with the West again for the first time in more than two centuries. This led to a fascination in the West with Far Eastern aesthetics and influenced some of Europe’s best known painters.

Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Décor will feature 41 artworks by 12 artists, including Pierre Bonnard, Mayrice Denis and Edouard Vuillard, who were part of the Nabis art movement in France, as well as Japanese ukiyo-e masters such as Hokusai, Kano Tanshin and Toshusai Sharaku. Highlights include a four-leaf screen by Marguerite Serusier, Rolling Landscape (1900), and Hokusai’s Yoro Waterfall in Mino Province (1830-34).

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Isabelle Cahn, General Curator of Paintings at Paris’s Musée d’Orsay and Curator of Japanese Connections, said: “By bringing this exceptional selection of works together, Japanese Connections traces the fundamental contribution of Japanese aesthetics to the development of decorative principles of modern painting in France at the end of the 19th century.”

Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manuel Rabaté, said: “Japanese Connections will shine a light on one significant moment of exchange and inspiration; these moments open our eyes to the interconnected history of human societies, nurturing shared understanding.”

The Bank of the Sumida River in Edo (1858), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)  
The Bank of the Sumida River in Edo (1858), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)

The exhibition, which opens on September 6, will be accompanied by a programme of events celebrating Japanese culture, as well as the Big in Japan festival (October 26 and 27), which will feature poetry evenings, film screenings and cookery classes.

There will also be the Manga Lab, a creative and experimental space for teenagers and young adults, offering a variety of experiences to explore contemporary Japanese culture, including virtual reality, retro arcade gaming, a graffiti and expression wall, a chill-out reading area, and a series of masterclasses and workshops about Manga and graphic art.

Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Décor is open September 6-November 24. For more details, visit www.louvreabudhabi.ae

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