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	Image: Kamisaka Sekka Flowers of the twelve months 1920–25 (detail) Hosomi Museum, Kyoto

Rinpa style: Japanese art and design

Symposium in conjunction with Kamisaka Sekka: dawn of modern Japanese design

Acknowledged as the quintessential symbol of Japanese aesthetics, the Rinpa artistic tradition holds a unique position in Japanese art history for its enduring allure. Originating in Kyoto in the late 16th century, Rinpa was practised into the 18th century and has continued to serve as a major source of inspiration for artists in Japan and elsewhere to the present day. In the late 19th century, the abstract decorativeness of Rinpa was absorbed by emerging craft art movements such as Art Nouveau and the British Arts and Crafts. In Japan, Kamisaka Sekka built on Rinpa’s universal beauty and timeless appeal to reinvigorate Japanese art and craft design in the modern age. Today Japanese painters, craft artists and fashion designers reference Rinpa motifs and style in their work as a means to underline their national identity in an increasingly globalised contemporary art world.

Join invited experts in Japanese history and art to savour a day exploring the many manifestations of Rinpa style. The symposium includes a viewing of the exhibition Kamisaka Sekka: dawn of modern Japanese design, morning tea and lunch.


9.30am Registration, tea and coffee

Jackie Menzies, head curator of Asian art

Sekka’s Japan: a modern remaking
Michael Lewis, professor of Japanese Studies, the University of Sydney
Kamisaka Sekka’s life overlapped with a period of startling historical and social transformation in Japan. Born in 1866 just two years before the Meiji Restoration, which saw a secluded Japan open to European and American influences, he died in 1942, shortly after the US attack on Pearl Harbour which dramatically re-closed Japan to the West. Following Meiji, Japanese people lived in an increasingly internationlised world which was industrial as well as preindustrial, and ever more urban than rural. Michael Lewis explores the contending contexts in which Sekka worked and introduces several new cross-cutting ideas and loyalties that shaped a remaking of Japan.

Enduring allure: Rinpa art in the Hosomi Collection
Yoshiyuki Hosomi, director of the Hosomi Museum, Kyoto
The Hosomi Museum in Kyoto is widely acknowledged for its rich holdings of Rinpa art. Through its collection, Yoshiyuki Hosomi reveals the development of Rinpa and explores the inventiveness of artists over generations who are reviving and re-adapting the tradition.

11.30am Break

Kamisaka Sekka and the Rinpa tradition
Tadashi Kobayashi, emeritus professor of Gakushuin University and chief editor of Kokka magazine
Tadashi Kobayashi identifies the various imaginative measures taken by Kamisaka Sekka to render the time-honoured Rinpa artistic tradition accessible and appealing for a modern audience.

12.45pm Lunch / exhibition viewing / tea ceremony demonstration

Artist talk in the exhibition
Tarō Yamamoto, artist and critic
Tarō Yamamoto calls his work ‘Nipponga’, a style which references traditional methods and styles to address contemporary issues and which makes use of a particular type of Japanese ironic humour known as kaigyaku. He speaks about the strong Rinpa influences in his paintings.

Neo-Rinpa and other historical re-visions in contemporary Japanese art
John Szostak, associate professor of Japanese art history at the University of Hawai’i
A recent phenomenon in Japan has seen artists turn to pre-modern Japanese art, borrowing and updating what they discover for exciting new contemporary applications such as in the ‘neo-Rinpa’ work of Tarō Yamamoto and Ai Yamaguchi. John Szostak considers the various artistic and cultural motivations for this art-historical ‘borrowing’, as well as its associated rewards and dangers as Japanese artists reconnect with a ‘classical’ past, predating their country’s extensive cultural interactions with the West.

Department stores and the democratisation of luxury in early 20th-century Japan
Elise K Tipton, honorary associate professor of Japanese studies at the University of Sydney
In 1914 the Katsumikai crafts association, headed by Kamisaka Sekka, held its eighth exhibition at Takashimaya department store in Kyoto. The shift in location of the exhibition from art gallery to department store points to Sekka’s successful efforts to find new outlets for displaying and selling craft works to consumers. This lecture provides background to what may be described as the ‘democratisation of luxury’.

Closing remarks
Khanh Trinh, curator of Japanese art at the Art Gallery of NSW and curator of Kamisaka Sekka: dawn of modern Japanese design


Image: Kamisaka Sekka Flowers of the twelve months 1920–25 (detail) Hosomi Museum, Kyoto

Saturday 23 June 2012, 9.30am–4.30pm

cost $95
members $85
full-time students $25

Bookings and enquiries: 02 9225 1878


Become a member

Three full working days (Mon–Fri) notice is required to qualify for a refund. All refunds attract an administration charge of 25% of the ticket price(s) with a minimum charge of $5. Not negotiable.

Please note online bookings for this event close Friday 22 June 2012, 4.30pm

Duration 7 hours
Location: Domain Theatre

Related exhibition: Kamisaka Sekka

Supported by
Toshiba International Foundation VisAsia Council Co-presented with University of Sydney, The Power Institute