FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NIHONGA: NEW TRADITIONS
March 10, 2011-April 30, 2011

The Dillon Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of extraordinary contemporary artists practicing the ancient Japanese art of Nihonga.

Nihonga‘s roots extend back several millennia to Tang Dynasty China. The term, created in the nineteenth century to distinguish traditional Japanese painting methods from Western-influenced art, literally means “Japanese-style painting.” It encompasses both an aesthetic approach and the use of time-honored materials such as ground semi-precious minerals (particularly azurite, malachite, and cinnabar), oyster shell, sumi ink, gold and silver leaf, rice and mulberry papers and silk. The mastery of these complex and subtle elements has been maintained for many centuries by unbroken links from Master to apprentice, manifesting most notably in the glorious flowering of Japanese screen and scroll painting. 



The most accomplished of the current generation of Nihonga artists are represented in this exhibition, including Makoto Fujimura, Masatake Kouzaki, Kiezaburo Okamura, Norihito Saito, Hiroshi Senju, Asami Yoshiga and Chen Wenguang. All studied directly with renowned artists of the previous generation, primarily at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Created in the late-nineteenth century to supplant the endangered Master-apprentice tradition, the University’s faculty has included major figures such as Matazo Kayama, acknowledged as one of the most important Nihonga painters and teachers of the twentieth century. He is credited with beginning the true modernization of the art form in his own work and encouraging exploration and innovation in his students. For most of the past century and more the technique Nihonga had also implied a strong adherence to the visual forms and conventions of the past. The current generation, already represented multiple times in every major museum in Japan, has reinvigorated the style and is changing the way it is perceived, approaching both the aesthetics and the materials with a fresh and sometimes irreverent eye. 



Since our first exhibition of Nihonga in 1995, featuring two of the technique’s most powerful and popular artists, Hiroshi Senju and Makoto Fujimura, Dillon Gallery has expanded its presentation to become the foremost Western gallery presenting contemporary Nihonga, encompassing an aesthetically diverse group of the finest Asian artists in the style. A major aspect of the gallery mission is to identify and promote outstanding talent, presenting emerging artists alongside the masters.



The historic nature of Nihonga and the cultural value inherent in the art, require both artist and gallery to approach their role as one of stewardship. The paper makers, pigment dealers and silk merchants
essential to the creation of the art are in many cases not being replaced by the next generation, and all aspects of the skills needed to support the art form are in jeopardy. Helping to sustain and nourish both the artists and the artisans associated with the materials required for Nihonga, our exhibition program seeks to educate audiences while presenting this important cultural achievement to a wider audience.

NIHONGA

The Dillon Gallery is proud to exhibit represent an extraordinary group of contemporary artists who practice the ancient Japanese art of Nihonga, including Norihito Saito, Hiroshi Senju, Yuzo Ono, Reiko Bando, Makoto Fujimura, Masatake Kouzaki, Kiezaburo Okamura, Asami Yoshiga and Chen Wenguang. Since our first exhibition of Nihonga in 1995, featuring two of the technique’s most powerful and popular artists, Senju and Fujimura, Dillon Gallery has expanded its presentation to become the foremost Western gallery presenting contemporary Nihonga, encompassing an aesthetically diverse group of the finest Asian artists.

Nihonga's roots extend back several millennia to Tang Dynasty China. The term, created in the nineteenth century to distinguish traditional Japanese painting methods from Western-influenced art, literally means “Japanese-style painting.” It encompasses an aesthetic approach and the use of time-honored materials such as ground semi-precious minerals (particularly azurite, malachite, and cinnabar), oyster shell, sumi ink, gold and silver leaf, rice and mulberry papers and silk. The mastery of these complex and subtle elements has been maintained for many centuries by unbroken links from Master to apprentice, manifesting most notably in the glorious flowering of Japanese screen and scroll painting.