Arts & Entertainment

Tokyo exhibition showcases Joan Miro’s Japan connection

By María Roldán

Tokyo, Feb 10 (EFE).- The connections between Barcelona-based artist Joan Miro and Japan are at the center of the biggest exhibition of his work in the Asian country, which includes more than 100 of his artworks influenced by Japanese printmaking or calligraphy.

The exhibition “Miro, dreaming with Japan” was presented to the media on Thursday, a day before it goes public until Apr. 17 at Tokyo’s Bunkamura Art Museum, where 140 pieces, including paintings, documents and belongings of the artist, have been shipped from as far as Barcelona, Majorca and New York.

“The Portrait of Enric Cristòfol Ricar” (1917), the painting used as a reference for illustrating the early Japanese influence on Miro, is on display along with a copy of the Japanese print that the painter incorporated in a collage while painting his colleague, the exhibition’s curator Kazuho Soeda told EFE.

The painting, on loan from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, stands next to the print owned by Sabine Armengol, the great-grandniece of painter and scenographer Oleguer Junyent.

“Miro had an interest in Japan that continued from his youth to his final years. I believe he responded to materials and textures that did not exist in Spain or Europe,” which is reflected in his work through the use of the traditional (Japanese) “washi” paper, calligraphic styles and even in ceramics, the curator said.

Miro (1893-1983), is considered one of the biggest painters in Japan, of the same stature as Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).

His work first began to be displayed in the country in 1930s, but it was only in 1966 that the first retrospective was organized in the National Museum of Art in Tokyo, which resulted in the artist’s first and much-awaited visit to Japan, where he traveled to several cities over 15 days.

The exhibition includes photos from the visit, which would mark a turning point in his career, with his subsequent drawings reflecting a clear influence of Japanese calligraphy.

The exhibition also focuses on the artist’s friendship with Japanese poet Shuzo Takiguchi, who wrote the first-ever monograph on Miro, through objects and artwork that they exchanged or paintings which Miro dedicated to his friend after his death in 1979.

Soeda said that the exhibition has sought to create a different focus from earlier retrospectives, through several personal objects that Miro took from Japan.

The selection of paintings also seeks to highlight the “mutual love” between the artist and the country, including “Dancer Hearing an Organ Playing in a Gothic Cathedral” (1945) – considered to be Miro’s first work displayed in Japan – which is owned by the Fukuoka Art Museum.

Another highlight of the show is “Snail, Woman, Flower, Star” (1934), from Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum, which has returned to Japan after a gap of 56 years. EFE


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