Category Archives: Art

Brian Williams Exhibition at Takashimaya, Kyoto; 11/26 – 12/2

On my way home from work earlier today, I stopped off to admire a magnificent display of golden autumn leaves at Nishi-Hongan-ji.

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When I got home I found in my mailbox the following flyer from Brian Williams, featuring his painting of the very same tree!

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And from the very same angle! Serendipitous in the extreme! Well, Brian’s wonderful paintings are now on display on the 6th floor of Takashimaya in Kyoto until December 2nd. Brian himself says,

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It’s my own little triennalle at Kyoto Takashimaya again… This time with a focus on the grand old capital itself: over half the works are views of Kyoto. In an unexpected wrinkle, the store has asked me to give a gallery talk in English, at 4 pm on Saturday the 29th. It would be nice to see you, either then or at any time during the show. I’ll be there every day, ready to give you a wave. And my parabolic paintings will wave at you too.

brian in actionYou can find a map and other details about Takashimaya Kyoto here: 高島屋京都店

To learn more about Brian’s parabolic paintings visit his site here: Brian’s Eye
Or you can read this article I wrote about him here: The Artist Brian Williams

Christine Flint Sato’s Sumi Workbook & November Workshop

sumi workbook coverWell-known British sumi artist Christine Flint Sato has recently published a wonderfully accessible Sumi Workbook which presents a complete introductory course for anyone who would like to try their hands at the traditional sumi ink arts of calligraphy or brushed ink painting. Having studied these arts herself for over thirty years and taught workshops in both Japan and the UK, Christine has now come up with an innovative method of teaching and practice that stresses the meditative, experimental, and playful aspects of these arts. If you would like to enter into a new artistic venture and learn a little more about Japanese culture,  then this book could be the right entry point for you. I’ve read the book and can highly recommend it, but don’t take my word for it. Two opportunities are coming up to meet the lady in person!

If you would like to meet Christine, this coming Sunday (November 2nd), she will be at the International Exhibition of Art and Design being held in the annex of the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. Her work will also be on display there, so if you have an interest in taking up the sumi arts this may inspire you. Christine will be there from 13:00 until 16:00. Here is a MAP to the location.

Christine will also be teaching a Sumi Arts Workshop in Nara on November 30th. The details are below… Take it away Christine!

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Sumi Workshop Nov 30th 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Come and enjoy working with sumi in a free and experimental way. We will begin the day with brush exercises to free up your body and mind, and then using dots, lines and shapes will work with gradations of sumi and wet and dry brushwork.
We will have the opportunity to try out the many sumi inks at Boku-undo Sumi Manufacturers during the workshop.

Date: Nov 30th 2014 11:00 – 4:00 (Please arrive by 10:45)
Meeting place : Boku-undo Sumi Manufacturers.
Please come to the Boku-undo shop inside Ganko Shopping Street , Nishinokyo
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Here is a MAP.

Nearest Station: Nishinokyo on the Kintetsu Kashihara jingu line. At Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji take the local train to Nishinokyo, it takes about 6 or 7 minutes.
Please bring: Shodo equipment: brush, felt, water container, paperweight
A packed lunch and drink
Warm clothes

Fee: 3,000 Yen. This includes fee for the room and for paper.

Please contact Christine if you would like to attend the workshop and if you have any questions.
cflintsato[at]hotmail.com
See also her site at: http://www.sumiwork.com/

Pictures from Sanka’s Autumn Ritual by Ensō Watt

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I am now officially a fan of Ensō Watt! Last Friday’s performance was excellent and I enjoyed every minute of it. With musicians posted in various corners of Urbanguild, and Yannick Paget both conducting and performing with hypnotic percussion from the center, we were fully immersed in a landscape of sound. Simultaneously the live video art of Andy Couzens and Masato Tokumaru cast images upon the walls while poet Chris Mosdell cast images in our minds. I really was quite lost in it all, and am looking forward to their next Winter performance. Long live Ensō Watt!

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Samuel André (Soundscape, Field recording)

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Ryotaro (Accordion & effects)

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Chris Mosdell (lyricist/poet) gave a stirring reading…

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Yuki Nakagawa (Cello & effects)

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Taisuke Enami (piano & synth effect)

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Yannick Paget (conductor, composer and percussionist)

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For more details on this performance please refer to the previous post: Sanka’s Autumn Ritual by Ensō Watt
Follow Ensō Watt on Facebook or on their website here: http://ensowatt.org/

Sanka’s Autumn Ritual by Ensō Watt – Mixed Media Experimental Event @ UrbanGuild; October 10th

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Well, this looks like something…

ensō Watt Sanka’s Autmn Ritual from PollenRec on Vimeo.

Thanks to Marguerite Paget for sending the following information:

Kyoto Experiment Fringe program 2014 presents the artist collective: Ensō Watt at UrbanGuild from 7.30 pm, October 10th

Initiated in 2014 by the sound designer Samuel André, the Ensō Watt artist collective is born in Kyoto from the encounter of artists coming from different countries and raised in entirely different artistic universe, from classical music to electro, improvisation and sound design.

For Kyoto Experiment Fringe program 2014, Ensō Watt ensemble
performs SANKA’S AUTUMN RITUAL

A hundred years after Stravinsky’s revolutionary “Rites of Spring,” the members of this artistic collaboration pursues the experience-cum-experiment by focusing on Japan’s seasonal cycles, especially celebrated by the little-known mountainous tribe, the Sanka.

SANKA, can be translated from Japanese by “Mountain Cave” or “the one who
come down the mountain”. They are a mysterious, some say magical group of
people, who retreated, wandering in small bands through the mountainous regions of Honshu when the rice farmers arrived from the Asian continent in the third century. The Sanka are sometimes called the Japanese Gypsies. Little is known of their history. Although they are mentioned in Japanese chronicles from the 11th century, much of the information about them is vague.“Being a secluded community their cultural development grew far outside the social framework of the rest of the country. They developed their own language
based on natural sounds ie: the hum of the cicada, and their daily lives became dominated by rituals and esoteric rites.” Chris Mosdell

For SANKA’S AUTUMN RITUAL, Ensō Watt celebrates, autumn season in three acts. The music is inspired by the poetry of Chris Mosdell; it navigates between improvisation and conducted improvisation live by Yannick Paget, based on scored music’s elements. The performers, positioned in the audience, generate an immersive, musical surround-experience (broadcast on 4 speakers). More than just a musical experiment, the event is also shot live via a series of 6 cameras, and is processed and projected on 2 screens during the performance.

The exploration of the season’s cycle started this summer with the SANKA’S
SUMMER RITUAL (2014 July 18th at Urban Guild) :
Act I : rites of dragon fly, driving the dream machine. Act II, rites of the hundred
wind chimes, rites to refresh the earth, rites of the great fire dance. Act III the insect « hum » of humanity ritual, dance of the sacred peach.

Ensō Watt will conclude the cycle next year with winter and spring. A cycle that is meant to continue through years…

Why Ensō Watt ?
Ensō: 円相, in Zen Buddhism, an ensō is a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void). It is characterised by a minimalism born of Japanese aesthetics.

えんそう (演奏) means also in Japanese: concert or performance

Watt: reflects the electric energy impulsed by the musicians and the artists of this collective.

Ensō Watt is a space of experiment and overture where frontiers between
musics, classical, electro or sound design melt, where scored music meets
improvisation, where arts (music, image and poetry) enters a free dialogue, where the melting pot of culture is a strength. And so what? with this unique spirit breathed by Kyoto city everything’s possible, isn’t it?

Ensō Watt collective’s members are:
Samuel André (Soundscape, Field recording),
Yannick Paget (classical music conductor, composer and percussionist),
Taisuke Enami (piano & synth effect),
Yuki Nakagawa (Cello & effects),
Ryotaro (Accordion & effects)
Chris Mosdell (lyricist/poet),
Andy Couzens ( live vidéo),
Masato Tokumaru (live vidéo)
Hirisha Metha (Sanka’s Symbols Design)

For more information:
Press contact: Marguerite Paget: mgtpaget[at]gmail.com / 090 6556 1974
Event coordination: Samuel André: sandre.constellation[at]gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ensowatt?fref=ts
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Upcoming art exhibitions in Kyoto

Many thanks to Justin Giffin, who has put me on to two upcoming collaborative art exhibitions by international  & local artists in Kyoto. Click on the flyers for a clearer view of the details:

Viviana (Italy) & Ayumi: Sept 23-18 (opening party Sept 23), Gallery Sokyo, Furumonzen-dori, Gion http://gallery-sokyo.jp/en/shop/

Collaborative Water Colour Exhibition

Walderedo de Oliveira (Brazil) & Tanaka Teruzo: Oct 2-11 (event Oct 4), Kyoto Garou, south of Kawaramachi-Imadegawa http://www.kyotogarou.jp/

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鸚鵡小町 – Ōmu Komachi at the Ōe Noh Theatre on Sept 15th

Today we have a guest post from Itsuko Nakamura,

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Meet Ono-no-Komachi, one of the Six Poetic Geniuses who lived in 8th century Kyoto, brought back to life by the most highly acclaimed Noh actors of today on Kyoto’s oldest Noh stage!

Noh, the oldest musical drama of Japan, has been continuously performed for over 650 years (and has been designated as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO.) Enjoy its sophisticated aesthetics, stunning masks, gorgeous costumes, lyric dance and breathtakingly intense musical accompaniment.

Ōmu Komachi (Komachi’s Parrot-Answer Poem)

September 15th, 2014 at the Ōe Noh Stage
(on Oshikoji street between Tominokoji and Yanaginobanba streets)
Doors: 1:30 p.m.
Show: 2:00 p.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (approximately 3 hours)

Tickets: 8,000 yen (B-seats); 7,000 (C-seats); 6,000 (D-seats, non-reserved seats)
For the seating diagram, please refer to:
www.senuhima.com/senuhima/zuo_xi_biao915_reserved.html
For reservations and more information contact: 5th[at]senuhima.com

Description:
In her old age, the famous Heian poet Ono no Komachi lives in Sekidera, a temple at the border-pass between the capital and Otsu on Lake Biwa. Emperor Yōzei sends Major Counselor Yukiie to enquire sympathetically how she is. His poem ends: “mishi tamadare no uchi ya yukashisa” (Was not life enchanting there / within the jewelled curtains?). Yukiie delivers the Emperor’s poem, but Komachi tells him that she will answer with just one word. To the courtier’s astonishment, she explains how this is possible by changing “ya” to “zo,” so that the answer reads: “How enchanting life was there!” [Roy E. Teele translation]. This, she explains is an “ōmu-gaeshi” (“parrot-answer poem”). The rest of the play touches on the comments made about Komachi’s poetry in the preface to the Kokinwakashū. She describes a dance by the poet Ariwara no Narihira, then dances herself. Yukiie takes his leave and Komachi returns to her simple brushwood dwelling by the temple, her sleeves wet with tears.
Global Performing Arts Database, Cornell University
http://www.glopad.org/pi/en/record/piece/1000345

Artist Joel Stewart – Open Studio August 16-17

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“Kamigamo” by Joel Stewart

Our friend, the artist Joel Stewart, will have an open studio this Saturday and Sunday from 2pm – 6pm(ish), with a small sampling of prints and paintings from his collection. Says Joel, “Small works available starting in the Y10,000 range. Feel free to come by for a chat, a cool sip of tea and a browse….
Dates & Times: August 16th & 17th, 2pm – 6pm
Address: 41 Nishimomo no moto cho, Shichiku, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8208. Tel
Joel’s Studio is two streets south of Kitayama Street and one street east of Omiya on the south side of Shichiku-kita Dori. “Look for the business sign on south side of street half way down that says:谷田工務店。My rickety old gate leading back off the street is right next door.”
Here is a MAP.
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Daijoubu! Photography & Kansai’s International Portrait Project

kansai-int-projectsmallA message from Javier Montaño of Daijoubu! Photography:

Are you a foreigner living in Japan? Would you like to have a professional take your portrait for free? Then this may be your chance. Three people from Kansai will be selected based on an interesting photo idea they submit.

Just imagine a place where you would like your photo taken, decide what kind of clothes you would wear in the atmosphere of your choice. If you are selected we will work it out to make your dream a reality.

All you have to do is send your information and explain your concept in 50 words or less by using the form at the end of this page. The better the idea the greater the chance to win!

Submissions will be accepted until July 31, 2014. The winners will have their portraits taken somewhere between August and October.

For full details and an application form please visit http://www.javiermontano.net/kp/

Honke Owariya with Sean Lotman

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On Sunday Mewby and I had the pleasure of lunch with writer/photographer Sean Lotman. Sean’s wife manages the Honke Owariya soba noodle business, a family company which is pretty famous in Kyoto.  The business actually dates from 1465, though they “only” started making noodles Sean told me about 300 or 400 years ago, as they were originally a confectionary business.  They still make confectionary but it is the noodles that have made it famous. We met up with Sean at the main branch of Honke Owariya, a delightful old traditional Kyoto building for a stimulating lunch of hearty food and good conversation in beautiful surrounds. Continue reading

Noh by Torchlight – Takigi Noh

I just got tickets for the torchlight Takigi Noh performance at Heian Jingu this Sunday. Since March Mewby and I have been occasionally attending Noh performances at the Kanze Kaikan. Noh is of course notorious for sending people off to sleep, but our experience is that if you have a script to read along then it can be enthralling. Fortunately I was able to find the scripts for three of Sunday’s plays, Takasago, Matsukaze, and Shakkyō on the能.com. This will be our first time to try Takigi Noh so I’m quite excited!

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Here’s what John Dougill wrote about Takigi Noh on this very blog back in 2010:

For many people Noh is a turn-off. The plays have no conflict, no humour and no facial expression. Actors move at a snail’s pace, the language is arcane and the music archaic. To its detractors it’s simply an outmoded relic of medieval times. Noh way, Noh thank you.

There are regular performances in Kyoto, and if you attend you’ll find a good number of the audience asleep. One top performer told me he would do the same if he were watching rather than on stage! It’s very much an acquired taste, for knowledge is needed of the crafts and skills to truly appreciate them. The types of play and their ethereal nature, for example. The stately movement of the actors. The exquisite quality of the costumes. The almost sacred nature of the masks. The musical form. It’s an art form for connoisseurs.

Once a year, however, Kyoto offers an opportunity to enjoy Noh in a different light, when an outdoor show in the atmospheric surrounds of the Heian Shrine brings the plays to life in spectacular style. With over 3000 expectant people packed into the courtyard, the event begins in daylight with robed figures gliding towards an open stage accompanied by the peculiar ‘ya-oh’ chants of a drummer and the piercing sound of a flute.

At 6.30 priests emerge to light the braziers and as darkness descends, the illuminated shrine buildings provide a decorative backdrop. A rustling of the curtain and a masked figure enters, dressed in the most gorgeous of robes. In the deepening darkness the effect is eerie. The visual splendour, the ethereal music, the rising moon over the eastern hills combine to produce a sense of theatrical wonder.

With its masks, chorus, music and all-male cast, Noh is sometimes compared to the drama of ancient Greece. Viewed at the Heian Shrine, however, it has something of the great religious dramas of South-east Asia, such as the Balinese beach performances of the Ramayana. The event started as a revival of an older tradition and has been held every year since 1949. It proved such a success that it spawned some two hundred similar events around Japan. Why not give it a go? You might have thought you weren’t the type to go to Noh, but I can guarantee this is one performance you won’t be sleeping through.

Location: Heian Jingu Shrine (may be postponed in case of rain)
Dates: June 1 (Sun), June 2 (Mon) from 5.30 to around 8:45 (Gate opens at 4.30)
Cost: Y4000 at the gate (Y3000 in advance)
Recommended to take a sweater or light jacket for later in the evening
Schedule: Different plays are scheduled for each day – you can see the schedule here: http://www.kyoto-kanze.jp/takiginoh/takiginh65-program.htm
Inquiries (in Japanese): The Kyoto Takigi-noh Office 075-771-6114

Diego Pellechia has some more details about the performances up on his site The Noh Diaries.

John Dougill is professor of British Studies at Kyoto’s Ryukoku University and the author of Kyoto: A Cultural History and In Search of the Hidden Christians. He is also a contributor to our book, Deep Kyoto: Walks.

Learn more:
Japanese Noh: Performances for the Gods
the 能.com probably has pretty much everything you need to get started with Noh drama…