“Asian spirit and my mind. Japanese classical painting nihonga”

Exhibition “Asian spirit and my mind. Japanese classical painting nihonga” by the Japanese artist KŌKYŌ HATANAKA in the Adamson-Eric Museum.

Professor Kokyo Hatanaka (1947), an artist and historian, works as a professor of modern nihonga painting at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. Besides creative work, he is also dedicated to studying the aesthetics and history of Japanese nihonga-style painting. He has published numerous scientific papers on art and has written a voluminous two-part nihonga textbook, Nihonga wo manabu (I, 1997; II, 1999).

Kokyo Hatanaka, who was born and raised in a Buddhist temple in Japan, is also fascinated by India. He has conducted thorough research on the history of Indian art, published articles on Indian miniature paintings and sculptures and written a monograph on Indian textile art. He has spent longer and shorter periods in India and has gone there on a pilgrimage. These travels have also had a profound influence on his nihonga painting.

The paintings by Kokyo Hatanaka are fascinating due to their laconic images, symbolist intensity of emotions, elegance of colours inherent in nihonga painting, and dim translucence. His works are delicate studies of the human soul, and are based on deep Buddhist thought. The visually simple, yet extremely fine works by Hatanaka always convey a message. Each deals with a moment that has become timeless – radiant and intensive. A prayer that is conveyed to the audience through pure beauty, which in Oriental art is considered to be highly essential. The artist has said: “For me painting the pictures are like asking questions about my own life… But if I was asked about my lifework, I would say, without a doubt, that it is depicting the legends related to Buddha and his teachings.”

Since 1969, Kokyo Hatanaka has displayed his works at numerous exhibitions all over the world. The display put together specially for the exhibition in the Adamson-Eric Museum offers the Estonian audience the opportunity to acquaint themselves with one of the Japanese traditional fields of fine arts – nihonga. The term nihonga was first used to designate the classical Japanese painting style of the Meiji period in the 19th century, in order to distinguish such painting from the works in the ‘Western style.’ Nihonga paintings are characterised by flatness, the use of clear figures painted in sensitive contour and expressive emptiness, the vividness of pure tones, and the use of natural pigments.

The artist Kokyo Hatanaka will introduce his creation and the techniques of nihonga painting on Friday, 28 August and on Saturday, 29 August at 1 pm.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of events introducing different fields of Japanese culture (see the annex); in addition, a catalogue (designed by Tiit Jürna) will be issued. During the exhibition, educational programmes aimed at children and students will be organised.

The project is a cooperative effort between the Adamson-Eric Museum and the Japanese Embassy in Estonia, and is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Estonian Cultural Foundation, the Japanese Foundation, the companies Japan Tobacco International and Toyota Baltic AS, and the hotel L’Ermitage.

Since 2000, cooperation between the Adamson-Eric Museum and the Japanese Embassy in Estonia has resulted in four exhibitions held in Estonia to introduce different fields of Japanese traditional art.

The exhibition “Asian spirit and my mind” will be open until 1 November 2009.

Further information from the curators:

Kersti Koll (Adamson-Eric Museum): 644 5838, 5813 6012, kersti.koll@ekm.ee

Taimi Paves (Japanese Embassy in Estonia): 5667 3448, taro10@japemb.ee

Museum’s sponsor: Rimess OÜ

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events introducing Japanese culture:

Fri, 28 August at 1 pm

Walk through the exhibition, led by Prof. Kokyo Hatanaka; discussion of his creation and visits to Asia

Sat, 29 August at 1 pm

Lecture-workshop by Prof Kokyo Hatanaka on the techniques of nihonga painting

Thu, 10 September at 6 pm

Butoh show “The Road to Light”

Aki Suzuki: butoh dance, Björn B. Lindström: percussion instruments

Fri, 11 September at 1 pm

Workshop “Butoh dance as self-expression and psychological help”

Aki Suzuki

Thu, 24 September 12 pm–4 pm

Ikebana demonstration

Prof. Indrek Kaeli

Fri, 25 September at 4 pm

Lecture on ikebana

Ingrid Allik, Estonian Academy of the Arts

Thu, 1 October at 5 pm

Lecture “Zen and pure earth”

Alari Allik, University of Tallinn

Thu, 15 October at 6 pm

Meeting with Sven Grünberg “Buddhism and music”

Thu, 22 October at 6 pm

Lecture “Zen in art”

Prof. Leonhard Lapin

Thu, 29 October at 6 pm

Poetry night “A bug kisses the moon”

Andres Ehin: poetry, sound poetry; Mart Soo: guitar; Brian Melvin: percussion instruments

For children and students:

Educational programme “Japanese style painting tradition”

For basic school and upper-secondary school, in September and October

Educational programme “Body language”

For kindergarten and primary school, in September and October

Art camp for children: “An autumn vacation in Japan”

27-28 October

Booking for children’s programmes and information: phone 644 5838, liisi.lauer@ekm.ee