Exhibition: Japanese Art - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum


2010-11-12 • 2011-01-09

Japanese Art

First Floor Hall

The Museum joins the second Nihon Jaia festival of Japanese culture, to be held in Bilbao on November 12, 13 and 14. From 12 to 28 November the Museum will be displaying a generous selection of some one hundred and fifty works of Japanese art from the Palacio Collection of Oriental Art.

The Palacio Collection of Oriental Art has been part of the Museum collection since 1953-54 in accordance with the wishes of María de Arechavaleta, heiress to collector José Palacio (Montevideo, 1875–Bilbao, 1952). The collection has three hundred-plus works in all, more than two-thirds of which are from Japan.

The works selected for the exhibition are presented in four sections:

1.- Prints and paintings. One of the leading features is the set of prints, particularly the ukiyo-e of popular inspiration, which include works by the most representative artists working in the genre: Utamaro, Hokusai and Hirosige. Preferred subjects include actors from the Japanese kabuki classical theatre of the Edo period, women and landscapes.

2.- The samurai. One of the traditional figures in Japanese culture. Here we have the tsuba (sword blade guard), the kozuka (handle of the kogatana, a small knife inserted in the sword sheath), and a number of boxes. All these objects represent the warrior, cultural and personal facets of the samurai.

3.- The tea ceremony. This section includes ceramic objects from the aesthetic ceremonial of tea. A ritual very much in line with Zen thought and aesthetics, the this ritual was designed to enable people attending to achieve inner harmony.
4.- Daily life. This is the most varied section, with objects for personal use, which, in Japanese culture, are always linked to expression: netsuke (a catch to hang objects from the belt of the del kimono), suzuribako (writing bureau box), inro (small medicine box and seal hung from the belt of the kimono) and other boxes.

Besides the sheer formal and artistic quality of the pieces, the collection is of enormous interest because it is so exceptional, it being one of the very few collections of its kind in our part of the world.

In the image:
Katsushika Hokusai
Courtier sleeping, 19th century
Engraving on wood, 31 x 22 cm.
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum