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Monet’s Legacy:Monet‘s Spirit Lives in Japanese Contemporary Art
Published: August 24 2018

Claude MONET 《Water Lilies》1906
Oil on canvas 81.0×92.0cm
Yoshino Gypsum Co.,Ltd.(deposited at Yamagata Museum of Art)

Monet‘s Spirit Lives in Japanese Contemporary Art

Monet’s Legacy, Yokohama Museum of Art
July 14th, 2018~September 24th, 2018

Right after the World War I, Monet decided to donate his waterlilies’ series paintings to the French government in 1918. This exhibit reflects what Monet was painting and how his influence has been permeating in artists from the past and to the present. It is intriguing to know Monet’s impact still lives today in western countries, in Japan and in the world at large.

Monet’s legacy is introduced mainly in four folds. First, to show what Monet left us as an impressionist. Monet’s paintings shown here are owned by Japanese museums and companies. There are not as large artworks as you see in Orangerie Museum, MoMA or Chichu Art Museum in Japan. However, you will still get ideas of Monet’s unique use of colors and brush strokes in his time.

Second, to show Monet’s influences in modern and contemporary western artworks. There are artworks of Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Morris Louis, Gerhard Richter and Roy Lichtenstein to name a few. It is exciting to see some connections between Monet’s artworks and contemporary abstract western paintings. Monet’s use of natural light, air and water inspired contemporary artists to create abstract art. Abstract artists offered viewers to enjoy aspects of light and colors not just in nature. They offered viewers to blend colors and contents by seeing, observing and feeling the art itself.

Third, to present what Monet left contemporary artists to appreciate art making. Here, not only western contemporary artworks are shown but also recent Japanese contemporary artworks are presented to connect Monet’s impressionistic features. Certainly, technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries reflect the works of paintings, prints, and films, Monet’s spirit of true to his eyes mirrors the works of modern ages.

Back in 19th century, Monet was attracted to Ukiyoe, woodblock prints of Japan. He collected Ukiyoe and kept them in his Giverny home. It is said that Monet was influenced by Japanese view of nature and how it is presented. Now in twenty first century, Japanese contemporary artists are motivated and energized by Monet’s waterlilies’ series. This “Homage of Monet” is expanded and is growing beyond ordinary framework. Ongoing discovery of light, colors reflections are shown in the fourth of this exhibit.

To enjoy viewing the legacy of Monet, I recommend looking closely at works of following five Japanese contemporary artists:

YUASA Katsutoshi displays his wood block prints. He uses digital photography to bring out images. After carving the block, instead of using a press, he uses a “baren” or a Japanese traditional tool to print. When printing is done, he puts layers of prints and places them on a light box to bring out the realistic image and abstract colors. YUASA’s 《RGB#1》2017, 《RGB#2》2017, 《Quadrichromie》2018, and《Light garden#1》2009 are seen in the exhibit.

MATSUMOTO Yoko captures colors like Monet. Her two acrylic paintings《Landscape-Like Surface Vibrates III》1993 and 《Landscape-Like Surface Vibrates》2017 uniquely blend colors of lights, color gradations and smooth shadows.

MIZUNO Katsunori sees the world as if Monet chose video as his medium. The changes of light, shadows, colors, reflections, seasons in one screen are stated as Monet’s legacy. 21st century technology is used in 《reflection》2012, 《photon》2018, and 《holography》2018. They resemble Monet’s approach of ever changing lights in nature.

SUZUKI Risaku chose photography and video to show shapes and images which reflect on the water and images above it. The reality of focus and off focus bring uneasiness to the viewers yet confront what is real. His works are 《Water Mirror 14,WM-77》2014, 《Water Mirror 14,WM-79》2014, 《The Other Side of the Mirror》2014, and《Water Mirror 17,WM-734》2017.

FUKUDA Miran continues to create collage like paintings. She captures light, shadow, transparency, things close and far. Her two paintings 《Water Lilies Pond》2018 and 《Water Lilies Pond, Morning》2018 translate Monet’s water lilies in the city scenes of Japan.

SUZUKI Risaku《Water Mirror14, WM-77(left)》《Water Mirror14, WM-79(right)》2014
Chromogenic print 120.0×155.0cm (each)
Collection of the Artist
©Risaku Suzuki, Courtesy of Taka Ishi Gallery

FUKUDA Miran《Water Lilies Pond》2018
Acrylic on cotton mounted on panel 227.2×181.8cm
Collection of the Artist

FUKUDA Miran《Water Lilies Pond Morning》2018
Acrylic on cotton mounted on panel
ACollection of the Artist

View from the exhibition(Photo by Tokyo Shimbun)

(Written by: Ula Shibazaki)


中野京子著 『印象派で「近代」を読む 光のモネから、ゴッホの闇へ』(NHK出版新書)2015
原田マハ著 『モネのあしあと 私の印象派鑑賞術』(幻冬舎新書)2016
Vivian Russell, MONET’S GARDEN Through the Seasons at Giverny, Stewart Tabori & Chang, New York 1995.

Referred exhibition:

Monet’s Legacy
Period:July 14th, 2018~September 24th, 2018
Venue:Yokohama Museum of Art
Last Updated on August 25 2018

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