One of the last greats of traditional Japanese painting (Nihonga), Kyosai Kawanabe (1831-1889) personally saw Japan and Edo make the leap toward modernity – a leap that the artist himself often ridiculed in his work, caricaturing the mores and manners of the new system and society. Originally a student of the venerable Kano school, Kyosai regularly skirted decency and traditional morality both in his art and in private, but maintained a close connection with the mythology of traditional Japan, as seen in his regular and playful depiction of spirits, animals and other characters. Later in life, Kyosai accepted Josiah Conder as his student, living together with the British architect and enthusiast of Japanese art for a decade. This extensive retrospective, held at the Conder-designed and gorgeously rebuilt Mitsubishi Ichigokan, focuses particularly on how the two men influenced each other. A total of 130 pieces will be on show – note that some of the displays will be changed after the first part of the exhibition (June 27-August 2).
The Mitsubishi Ichigokan now also offers an English-language audio guide (¥520) for this exhibition.