Mirei Shigemori 1896-1975

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Mirei Shigemori 1896-1975

The Watari-Um isn't one to balk at tricky assignments: after presenting a mostly sculpture-free overview of sculptor Yayoi Kusama's 1960s oeuvre, the museum is now turning its attention to an artist whose work inherently resists the lure of the gallery. Mirei Shigemori went through flirtations with nihonga and ikebana before undertaking an extensive study of traditional Japanese gardens in the 1930s, emerging as the country's preeminent landscape architect. The checkerboard gardens at Tofukuji temple in Kyoto were the first of many that benefited from his radical touch, which aimed to absorb modern Western influences while remaining respectful to Japanese tradition. Quite how much of this comes across in the Watari-Um's exhibition remains to be seen, but there's no denying that Shigemori's legacy deserves all the attention it can get.

Mirei Shigemori, northern garden at Tofukuji temple, 1939

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