Meeting Japanese culture face to face in Israel

Published: October 25th 2010
in Culture » Art

The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art
Pic: Israel21c
A painting of Mount Fuji, by an anonymous artist painting in the mid 17th century. From the collection of the Tikotin Museum
Pic: Israel21c

While the collection spans the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries and includes contemporary Japanese art, there is a particular concentration of art from the Edo period (1600-1868).


Singer explains that those centuries signified a revolutionary period in Japanese society, and consequently for its art. The middle class gained ascendancy through newfound wealth, she explains, and new artistic forms such as Kabuki theater began to flourish.


"The subjects of Kabuki were better suited for the lower classes - it was more colorful, with a lot of activity," Singer says. Then the popularity of Kabuki spilled into the visual arts of Japan. "Woodblock prints depicted Kabuki actors, who were the celebrities of the time," she explains.


Reaching a Japanese TV audience


Distinguishing between historic and contemporary Japanese art, Singer says, "Traditional Japanese art uses specific subjects that were familiar at the time, like Kabuki actors, scenes of Japan, or beautiful ladies who wandered the streets of Tokyo, or Edo.


"In contrast, in contemporary art there isn't a common subject - like artists all over the world, they look for their own impressions." Yet through all the centuries and still today, says Singer, "One thing about Japanese artists has remained the same: Their ability to create something which is perfect and complete and very clean. Their techniques and composition have a sense of purity - a sense you can find both in traditional art and in contemporary art. When you see it, you know it's Japanese."


Though unique and alone in the Middle East, the Tikotin is in contact with museums in Japan, and receives support from the Japanese embassy in Israel and the Japan Foundation.


Now the museum has been chosen to feature in a special program for Japanese TV. "We are really looking forward to this," enthuses Singer. "People from NHK visited us with specialists from Japan who were very impressed with the collection of treasures here. They really want to make the program, and we will most likely do it next year."


This article originally appeared on Israel21c and has been reprinted with permission.

Related articles: (Japan, Tikotin Museum, Art)
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