Yūkei, like much Japanese, travels obliquely into the West.
Dictionaries point to a mysterious, secluded and personal path.
The word echoes with connotations of little-traveled tracks
through deep mountains. To follow these alters the rhythms of
daily life and brings the unexpected. The word eludes an easy
equivalent in English. Nonetheless, it speaks to the surprising
experiences which deepen life, and our own reflective paths.
This, our sixth catalogue, wanders
across many provinces of Japanese art. From Buddhist stone and
Shintō sculpture, we turn to some medieval ceramics with
volcanic, natural ash glaze effects. The exuberance of 16th and
early 17th century, Momoyama period design brings us to Edo
period earthenware. Imaginative and amazingly abstract, this
pottery echoes with spontaneous and playful qualities that
remain fresh today. Also from the Edo period, we illustrate rare
pieces of metalwork, lacquer, and wood. Though seldom seen, the
best Japanese furniture opens our eyes to the architectural
elegance with which it was made. With a handful of Ainu
textiles, we touch on one of the world’s great folk and design
traditions. Again, we bring you some ornaments for tea, before
returning to the great tide of Japanese modernism at the end of
the 19th through the 20th century.
Japanese artists approached the
modern era with fresh optimism. As with traditional Japanese
art, their work from the past century continues to celebrate the
natural world. As such, it implicitly brings us into
relationship with a wider universe. Japanese craftsmanship
remains unrivaled, in itself a kind of homage to the beauties of
nature and a link between the human and the natural. As these
artists explore abstraction, their work increases our feeling
for the mystery and wonder of the place in which we live.
Like our earlier catalogues, Yūkei
forms a visual miscellany of Japanese art. The forward portion
consists of images, arranged in rough chronological order.
However, the progression favors a conversation between pieces,
so the time periods seem at points less important than the way
certain objects speak to one another. At the back of the book
you will find descriptive information on particular art works,
along with information on public exhibitions sponsored by the
Japanese government, and a bibliography.
Japanese art continues to surprise
us and deepen our lives after more than a quarter of a century.
We hope our idiosyncratic paths through this tradition likewise
bring joy and light to you.