AMHERST, Mass. -- On Thursday, Dec. 6, at 4:30 p.m., Japanese painter Yamaguchi Akira, whose work is featured in the Mead's special exhibition Reinventing Tokyo: Japan's Largest City in the Artistic Imagination, will offer a slide lecture about his art in Pruyne Auditorium, Fayerweather Hall, at Amherst College. Immediately after the lecture, he will give a gallery talk inside the exhibition at the Mead. Both the lecture and gallery talk are free, open to the public, and co-sponsored by the 2012-2013 Copeland Colloquium at Amherst College, Art in Place / the Place of Art.
Yamaguchi's keynote lecture launches a three-day symposium held in conjunction with the Reinventing Tokyo exhibition: Representing Tokyo/Teaching Tokyo, which features eight distinguished lectures and is also free and open to the public, no registration required.
Yamaguchi attended Tokyo University of the Arts, receiving his B.F.A. in 1994 and his M.F.A. in oil painting in 1996. He has received a number of awards, and his work is frequently included in international exhibitions, including the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) and Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art (Japan Society, New York, 2011).
At first glance, many of Yamaguchi's highly imaginative paintings and drawings look familiar; only after close inspection does the viewer realize that the artist has fused the techniques of traditional Japanese painting with the reality of contemporary Japan. The resulting works compress time and space, East and West, the human and the machine. Some of his best-known paintings appropriate the composition of a genre of screen paintings known as Scenes In and Out of the Capital, identified by their use of gold leaf and detailed depictions of temples, festivals and urban life. Yamaguchi exchanges Japan's capital of yore, Kyoto, for its modern capital, Tokyo, and replaces traditional features with high-rise buildings, pedestrian malls and highways. He uses pen and ink on paper rather than the time-favored mineral pigments.
"We're proud to announce Yamaguchi Akira's first talk in the United States at Amherst College," said guest curator Samuel Morse, the college's Howard M. and Martha P. Mitchell Professor of Art History and Asian Languages and Civilizations. "His stunning drawings are among the highlights of the exhibition Reinventing Tokyo, and I invite everyone to take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear the artist discuss his work."
Yamaguchi's works in the exhibition are reproduced in the richly illustrated scholarly catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. Featuring essays by Samuel Morse, Trent Maxey, Timothy Van Compernolle, John W. Dower and Yamashita Yuji, the catalogue is available from the museum's bookshop; from its publisher, the University Press of New England; and from other booksellers.
Reinventing Tokyo remains on view through Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.
Image detail: Yamaguchi Akira (born 1969), Tōkei (Tokyo): Hiroo and Roppongi, 2002. Watercolor on paper. Mori Art Center Museum Shop, Tokyo.