Category Archives: Art

‘Introduction to Noh theatre’ begins at Impact Hub Kyoto this Spring

‘Introduction to Noh theatre’ by The International Noh Institute (INI) is a 6-session course at Impact Hub Kyoto, aimed at Kyoto residents, exchange students, or any other English-speaker who would like to take a closer look at Noh theatre’s tradition.

noh limits

Details at the LINK!

Images from Velvet Moon Vol. 115

What a joy it was to see Sean Roe back in Urbanguild this evening – and for the first time in four years! And so much talent in tonight’s show too! I was particularly impressed this time by two of the dancers: Misuzu and Chian. Watch out for them in the images and videos below.

Mangrove Kipling
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Cozy (Colin Garvey & Yozy)
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IMG_9116 (Medium)

みすず + 山崎昭典
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amallsのskcaj & Chian

Andy Couzens

Andy Couzens

Sean Roe

Sean Roe

amalls 1

Chian…

 

amalls 2

amalls 3

amalls 4

amalls 5

And finally… Michael Jackson’s Llama?

Velvet Moon: Live Music & Dance @ Urbanguild, Kyoto; March 25th 2015

amals

amallsのskcaj are Andy Couzens & Sseeaann Rrooee performing an improvised tribute of video and sound to the memory of Mr. Michael Jackson

I’m very happy to report that our old friend Sean Roe will be returning to Urbanguild on March 25th as one half of the sound and video improvisation unit amallsのskcaj!

VELVET MOON Vol. 115
DATE: Wednesday March 25th

DOORS OPEN: 19:00 / SHOW STARTS: 19:30

ADVANCE TICKETS: 2000 yen with 1 drink / TICKETS ON THE DOOR: 2300 yen with 1 drink

Here is the full line up for a night of Velvet Moon!

amallsのskcaj (Sseeaann Rrooee and Andy Couzens)

amalls

amalls の skcaj

みすず(dance) + 山崎昭典(guitar)

misuzu

misuzu

Originally a ballerina but influenced by Butoh since her university days, みすず has performed with various musicians and many styles of music. A regular at Urbanguild, every shapeshifting performance tells a unique story of its own.

Cozy

Colin Garvey + Yozy = Cozy

Colin Garvey + Yozy (dance)

Colin Garvey is a self-taught Canadian indie/folk singer and songwriter who blends the strumming and singing of catchy tunes with live beats produced on the spot by the looping of beat-boxing and the pounding and battering of one of the world’s ugliest guitars. Each song is based on a story or feeling acquired from the life of a troubadour; as he travels the globe taking in any and all experiences that present themselves. It all comes together to produce a lively, quirky and entertaining atmosphere that can be summed up as, ‘enjoyable’. He will be accompanied by Chinese dancer, Yozy.

Mangrove Kipling
ukiyo
Mangrove Kipling (Laurent Lavol?) is a french experimental musician living and working in Berlin, Germany. Exploring new regions of sounds and always expanding his range of action, he has worked internationally with artists of all categories, mainly dancers, video artists and numerous other musicians. For the first time in Japan, he developed an augmented guitar that allows him to play his wide range of tunes through a portable device.
www.mangrovekipling.com

Top image by Andy Couzens. Text and other images courtesy of the artists and Urbanguild.

Directions: To get to Urbanguild from Sanjo Dori, go down Kiyamachi Dori (This is the narrow street running alongside the Takase stream). Urbanguild is on the east side (the left hand side as you walk down from Sanjo) about 150 metres. It’s on the 3rd floor of the New Kyoto Building – access by elevator or stairs. Here is a map.

KYOTOGRAPHIE 2015

With thanks to Christie Petrakopoulou, here are some details of this year’s Kyotographie festival of photography (with a little bit of jazz thrown in for good measure)…

KYOTOGRAPHIE is a high-end photographic event that runs annually in Kyoto (Japan), for over three weeks during the height of the spring tourist season. With a unique approach in Asia to traditional exhibition, KYOTOGRAPHIE presents world-class photography with original scenography in Kyoto City’s unique traditional and contemporary architecture.

KYOTOGRAPHIE 2015 – 3rd EDITION, April 18th – May 10th, 2015. Exhibiting widely recognized and celebrated Japanese and international photography from 9 countries in 14 iconic venues.

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Focusing on ‘TRIBE,’ the 3rd Edition of KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival presents another fascinating array of exhibitions and events in Kyoto.
Dates: 2015. 4.18 Sat – 5.10 Sun
Exhibitions: 14 Exhibitions. Artists from 9 countries 15 venues

TRIBE – What’s Your Story?
The tribe is a source of fascination in a world where globalization and population displacement pose crucial questions concerning roots and belonging. Since inclusion is vital to our happiness, the tribe naturally attracts. Now, as in times past,the tribe provides ways of connecting and sharing important information and ideologies. Through shared heritage, collective conscience, or common values the tribe embraces us and becomes a significant identifying factor in our social fabric. Crossing the globe in search of places where people meet, engage and form special relationships, KYOTOGRAPHIE’s 2015 exhibitions look back at the past to explore indigenous cultures and history, and investigate contemporary popular culture and the fringes of society. TRIBE seeks to question what it means to belong, both by choice and as a matter of circumstance.

Highlights

Marc Riboud, Alaska, 1958 / © Marc Riboud

Marc Riboud, Alaska, 1958 / © Marc Riboud

●Marc Riboud’s exhibition “Alaska” presented by CHANEL NEXUS HALL goes on tour. Touring from CHANEL NEXUS HALL, this exhibition features unpublished and unseen works shot in Alaska in 1958 by Marc Riboud, one of the 20th century’s leading photographers.

National Photographic Collections of MNAA– Guimet, Apollinaire Le Bas, Japanese Warrior, 1864, albumen print / © Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts

National Photographic Collections of MNAA– Guimet, Apollinaire Le Bas, Japanese Warrior, 1864, albumen print / © Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts

●“Last Samurai” images from the photographic collections of the Guimet National M useum of Asian Arts World premiere! KYOTOGRAPHIE begins a collaboration with the Guimet museum (France), presenting never before seen
albums and images. This first exhibition will provide an in-depth and valuable look into samurai culture. It will include rare portraits of Japan’s warrior class from the height of the samurai era and photographs that were produced for foreign consumption in the Meiji period.

Francis Wolff, BLUE TRAIN

Francis Wolff, BLUE TRAIN (Album of John Coltrane) , 1577 / © Francis Wolff/Mosaic Images

●Francis Wolff, a vision of jazz Japan premiere! This special Blue Note Records exhibition features Francis Wolff and other important archived works from Reid Miles. It traces the legacy of jazz and explores the intimate moments Wolff captured in his lengthy career.

Roger Ballen, Mimicry, 2005 / © Roger Ballen

Roger Ballen, Mimicry, 2005 / © Roger Ballen

●Roger Ballen first solo exhibition in Japan
Roger Ballen is a South Africa-based artist who brings a unique perspective to themes of racial discrimination and poverty. His fascinating work has gained enormous global attention. This much-awaited exhibition will take place
at Horikawa Oike Gallery, where a retrospective supported by COMME des GARÇONS will provide insight into his photographic career. Roger Ballen’s new movie Outland will also be shown at COMME des GARÇONS Kyoto store.
In addition, KYOTOGRAPHIE will launch a new edition of his controversial photobook Outland complete with 45 new images. Outland is the culmination of Ballen’s twenty years of work and is one of the most extraordinary photographic
documents of the late 20th century.

●Evening Events
To coincide with the Blue Note Records exhibition, KYOTOGRAPHIE will present a series of special musical events. They will take place throughout the festival calendar and offer entertainment for all ages, tastes and interests (Jazz dinner, Jazz lounge, live performances, etc…) The festival will feature Shuya Okino, who formed “KYOTO JAZZ MASSIVE” as a DJ unit (they recently celebrated their 20th anniversary). Okino is arguably Japan’s leading export in the crossover Jazz scene with a successful career as a composer, international performer and chart-topping artist. As a DJ, Shuya Okino regularly tours Japan and worldwide.

Text and images courtesy of Kyotographie. To learn more about KYOTOGRAPHIE 2015 visit the official website here: http://www.kyotographie.jp

Or check out some of the other photographers they have lined up on their crowdfunding page: https://motion-gallery.net/projects/KYOTOGRAPHIE2015

RELATED: Kyotographie 2015 Crowdfunding Campaign Now Open!

Parasophia: A Major Festival of Art & Culture in Kyoto Starts this Week!

parasophia

Well, this looks interesting, doesn’t it?

Parasophia: Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture 2015
March 7–May 10, 2015

Parasophia: Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture 2015 is the first large-scale international exhibition of contemporary art to be held in Kyoto.  Approximately 40 artists from around the world will participate in the two-month exhibition at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, the Museum of Kyoto, and other locations. Many of these artists will also have taken part in the 700 days before the exhibition, making extended visits to Kyoto for site visits, collaborations, and other research for new works that will be presented at the first exhibition in 2015.

To find out more about the schedule and location of events and exhibitions please visit the official Parasophia site.

Parasophia is also on, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

Kyotographie 2015 Crowdfunding Campaign Now Open!

kyotographie 2015

The crowdfunding campaign for Kyotographie 2015 has now begun. This has become a major art event in Kyoto over the last two years. Please lend your support if you can! Here’s the link: https://motion-gallery.net/projects/KYOTOGRAPHIE2015

About Kyotographie:
KYOTOGRAPHIE is a high-end photographic event that runs annually in Kyoto (Japan), for over three weeks during the height of the spring tourist season. With a unique approach in Asia to traditional exhibition, KYOTOGRAPHIE presents world-class photography with original scenography in Kyoto City’s unique traditional and contemporary architecture. Recognized as a distinguished photographic event, the festival successfully proved its significance in 2014 with around 40,000 visitors coming from across the country and overseas.

KYOTOGRAPHIE 2015 – 3rd EDITION, April 18th – May 10th, 2015. Exhibiting widely recognized and celebrated Japanese and international photography from 9 countries in 14 iconic venues.

KYOTOGRAPHIE aims to foster an appreciation of photography as a medium and art form. The festival brings together the international arts community and creates opportunities and events that generate quality exchanges for people of all ages and cultures. In addition to the major festival program the festival also fosters opportunities for emerging photographers through its satellite event KG+.

LINK: http://www.kyotographie.jp

Sumi Workshop Article in Kansai Scene

KS articleThis month, Kansai Scene have been good enough to publish an article I wrote about attending Christine Flint Sato’s sumi ink workshop. In her workshops Christine teaches neither calligraphy nor sumi-e ink painting, but breaks down the techniques used in both of these arts to their simplest and most abstract forms. With a uniquely meditative teaching method she helps her students gain familiarity with the materials and having gained confidence first with essential techniques they can then go on to  tackle more advanced designs. Here’s a clip from the article:

Our lesson did not begin with Chinese characters. “I don’t intend to teach shodō calligraphy, or sumi-e in this workshop, ” Christine said, “It’s more of an encounter with sumi, to see how it reacts with the page…” Then we did stretches, for Christine says that relaxation is key. Having loosened up, we began with the simplest of abstractions: the line. Take a breath, she told us and then as you breath out, let the brush move across the page: “The breath tells us how long to draw the line.” And so the whole room fell into a quiet meditative focus, as each student drew repeated lines across the page. Christine moved among us, offering tips: “Don’t grip the brush too tightly. Relax with the ink.”

Next, we moved onto circles, then squares, then triangles and dots. By focusing on these simple abstract shapes, we were able to familiarize ourselves with the spring of the brush held in different positions and with different pressures and speeds. And when we had fully practiced these basic shapes in different shades of ink, we were given free rein to play with more complex designs and combinations. All the while we were encouraged: let the breath be the brush’s guide. Christine told me that this method of using the breath was something she intuitively came up with. “I wanted to relax into it and get away from the pressure of doing it right”.

Kansai scene coverTo read the full article you can pick up a free copy of Kansai Scene at any of the locations listed here: Kansai Scene Pick-up Points

Or you can wait till next month when the full magazine will be available as a downloadable pdf: Kansai Scene Back Issues

To find out more about Christine Flint Sato visit her website here: http://www.sumiwork.com/

See also my review of Christine’s Sumi Workbook for Kyoto Journal.

The Heiji Monogatari Emaki – Interactive Scroll Now Online

“Few paintings of the period capture the force, confusion, and terror of battle as effectively as does the episode of the burning of the Sanjō Palace in the Heiji monogatari emaki.” – The Encyclopaedia Britannica

Sanjō Palace in flames - a detail from the Heiji Monogatari interactive scrolls from Bowdoin College

Sanjō Palace in flames – a detail from the Heiji Monogatari interactive scrolls from Bowdoin College

One night in January 1160, a band of 500 men stormed the retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa’s palace at Sanjō, took the former emperor captive, killed most of his staff and set the palace ablaze. Go-Shirakawa was carried off to join his son, the reigning Emperor Nijō, who was being held prisoner at The Great Palace. Meanwhile the rebels continued to eliminate their enemies. The coup was brief, effective and bloody.

Soldiers blockaded the [Sanjō] Palace on all four sides and set fire to it. Those who fled out they shot or hacked to death. Many jumped into the wells, hoping that they might save themselves. The ladies-in-waiting of high and low rank and the girls of the women’s quarters, running out screaming and shouting, fell and lay prostrate, stepped on by the horses and trampled by the men. It was more than terrible. No one knows the number of persons who lost their lives. – From “The Burning of the Sanjo Palace” translated by Reischauer & Yamagiwa

Kyoto, in the 12th century, was the setting for an intense power struggle between two samurai clans: the Minamoto and the Taira. The leaders of these clans, Minamoto no Yoshitomo, and Taira no Kiyomori, had once been allies in putting down an earlier rebellion, but a bitter rivalry had developed between them. When Taira no Kiyomori left the capital on a pilgrimage, Minamoto no Yoshitomo saw his chance to seize power, and launched his attack on the Sanjō Palace. Ultimately however, the Taira would return and exact their revenge…

This, in short, is the history of the Heiji Rebellion, a brief civil war that resulted in Taira no Kiyomori’s victory over Yoshitomo and the establishment of Japan’s first samurai led government. History buffs and art lovers alike will be delighted to learn that Bowdoin College has now put online the illustrated 13th century Heiji Monogatari scrolls which depict these events, and in a fully interactive format.

From the Bowdoin website:

“A Night Attack on the Sanjo Palace” provides an excellent introduction to the genre of picture scrolls. The scrolls read from right to left, and all action flows to the left. A few people hurrying flow into a confused throng of warriors and nobles, epitomized by a wayward bystander being crushed by an ox cart. Out of the confusion, attention shifts to the palace, where Fujiwara Nobuyori can be seen ordering the retired emperor into the cart. Wisps of smoke appear, leading to a conflagration at the palace, with hapless supporters of the Taira being killed, and women of the palace attempting, with mixed success, to flee. Gradually order is restored, and a band of warriors, including Fujiwara Nobuyori and his co-conspirator, Minamoto Yoshitomo, surround Go-Shirakawa’s cart in a triumphant procession.

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A detail from the Bowdoin College interactive scroll.

The scroll itself is beautiful. The commentary buttons that explain both the narrative flow and specific images are very helpful. There is also a translation button for the opening portion of the scroll, (quoted above) which introduces the unfolding events. The Bowdoin College site is a great learning tool and a fantastic introduction to this dramatic episode in Kyoto’s history.

You can find it here:
The Heiji Scroll
The Interactive Scroll Viewer

Images from Sanka’s Winter Ritual

On January 25th I attended Sanka’s Winter Ritual; a performance at Urbanguild by the mixed media collective Ensō Watt. Just as  when I attended the Autumn Ritual in October, I was completely enthralled by the mounting energy of this show. It really is a treat to see talented artists from so many varied disciplines blending their abilities so successfully.

At an Ensō Watt performance there are two screens, one poet, and musicians positioned around the room... The audience is bathed in light and sound.

At an Ensō Watt performance there are two screens, one poet, and musicians positioned around the room… The audience is bathed in colour and sound.

Of course, it could have all gone horribly wrong. On the one side you have a classically trained composer and conductor (Yannick Paget), and on the other you have an unruly bunch of experimental musicians, video artists and soundscape technicians (everybody else). You might assume that their natural instincts would pull them in two mutually incompatible directions, and you can easily imagine the resulting riotous blasphemy of chaotic sound and colour that would result. Ensō Watt manages to keep the balance between order and liberty just right however, and I think it is that fine balance, that tension between two compulsions that makes their performances so thrilling.

A limited score gives some structure to the performance, but the rest is improvisation...

A limited score gives some structure to the performance, but the rest is improvisation…

Those experimental artists who are used to playing with complete fresdom, are given a structure in which to contain their genius. The composer/conductor Yannick Paget, who by his training has always played completely fixed and rigid compositions, is suddenly set free to improvise at will. Everyone is playing outside their comfort zone and this provides a sense of adventure.

Yasutaka Okada on contrabass

Yasutaka Okada on contrabass

And all of this is inspired by the mystical refrains of Chris Mosdell’s poetry. His words conjure visions of a people (the semi-legendary Sanka tribe) who are swept up in both dread and ecstatic passion at the most elemental forces of life.

Poetry assaults the senses!

Poetry assaults the senses!

Clearly he is in his element, and  it must be a great joy for the poet that his words have inspired the other artists to produce for this one night a magnificent shimmering sanctuary of light and sound.

The poet too is caught up in the magic of the moment.

The poet too, is caught up in the magic of the moment.

Meanwhile, Yannick Paget throws himself into an enraptured percussive performance, while simultaneously (and most wondrously!) maintaining control over the ritual’s flow by conducting the other musicians. How he does all this is a mystery, but as he banged out the final crescendo of rhythm on the drums, it was all I could do to stop myself from throwing up a horny handed salute! The man might be a classical musician by trade, but at heart he is a rock star!

Yannick in the dark.

Yannick in the dark.

It is unfair though, to single out individuals for special praise in this collective. All of the members are brilliant, and their seamless collective pooling of their talents a remarkable phenomenon that I would encourage you all to see. The next miracle from Ensō Watt, the Rite of Spring will be performed at Urbanguild on April 29th. Mark it down in your diaries.

The ring leaders, left to right: Samuel André, Yannick Paget and Chris Mosdell.

The ring leaders, left to right: Samuel André, Yannick Paget and Chris Mosdell.

To learn more about Ensō Watt and their seasonal rites, visit their website here: http://ensowatt.org/

Stu Gibson Photo Exhibition @ Cafe Foodelica; January 15th – 25th

Our friends at Cafe Foodelica will be hosting an exhibition of Scottish photographer Stu Gibson’s Kyoto images from January 15th to the 25th.

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Here’s the schedule of special events:
17th January from 7pm: Stu Gibson Solo Photo Exhibit Opening Party
24th January from 5pm: Stu Gibson Solo Photo Exhibit Meet the Artist event.

Cafe Foodelica is situated near Shugakuin station. Here is a MAP.

For more images of closely observed Kyoto, check out Stu Gibson’s portfolio here: Life Through A Lens.