Large dish with chrysanthemums and butterflies, Hizen ware, Aode-Kokutani type: porcelain with coloured enamels, Edo period, circa 1650, diam. 34.6 cm, Sebastian Izzard


The 10th annual Japanese Art Dealers Association group exhibition includes full members Erik Thomsen Gallery, Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts, Leighton R Longhi Oriental Fine Art, Mika Gallery and Sebastian Izzard Asian Art. As usual, there will be a selection of panelled folding screens, paintings, post-war calligraphy and contemporary sculpture, classic prints and ceramics on show.

Sebastian Izzard is showing several unusual examples of Japanese porcelain, including a Hizen ware large dish decorated with chrysanthemums and butterflies, a Kutani tea-whisk shaped bottle, and a large Nabeshima porcelain serving dish decorated witht attributes of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune. Also on view are paintings by the Nanga master, Ike Taiga (1723-1786), as well as a selection of prints by ukiyo-e artists Kitagawa Utamaro (1754-1806) and Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825).

On display from Leighton Longhi is a 14th-century lacquered wood figure of the temple guardian Bishamonten subduing a demon. Mika Gallery is exhibiting a Star mandala from the Heian to Kamakura period, 12th century, and other objects from the Buddhist tradition, including a sutra case and an incense burner and a palace-type round pot from the Yayoi period, 300BC-AD200, plus Tokoname and Iga ware from the 12th and 16th centuries.

This year the highlight of Erik Thomsen’s screen selection includes a pair of Rinpa School six-panel folding screens of Flowers of the Four Seasons.  Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts is also showing work from the Rinpa School – a pair of 19th-century hanging scrolls by Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1868), entitled Narihira’s Journey to the East, together with a large hanging scroll of a crane with a rising sun by Hara Zaichu, and two pairs of six-panel folding screens, one of birds and flowers by Maruyama Oryo and the other of a hawk and geese by Soga Chokuan.


JADA 2018 at the Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 East 70th Street, NYC, NY 10075. Hours: 17 March, 11am-5pm; 18-19 March, 11am-6pm




Important Japanese Prints from the Collection of Henry Steiner

Sebastian Izzard, 17 to 29 March

This single-owner collection of 62 Japanese prints and one colour woodblock album span nearly 150 years of the history of Japanese print. The works span over a century and a half, from approximately 1710 to 1857. Most of the great ukiyo-e artists are including in this fine collection, including Kitagawa Utamaro, Toshusai Sharaku, Utagawa Toyokuni, and Katusushika Hokusai. Iconic images such as Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave’ are on offer, as well as a rare print from Sharaku (active 1794-95) of Ichikawa Ebizo IV as Takemura Sadanoshin. Yet another iconic image on offer from the collection is Utagawa Hiroshige’s Sudden Shower Over Shin-Ohashi Bridge at Atake, from 1857. Other highlights include a fine first printing of the ‘Shell Book’, along with a groups of prints on the classic subject matters of ‘Beauties’ and ‘Landscapes’.

Sebastian Izzard Asian Art, 17 East 76th Street 3/F, NYC, NY 10021, tel 212 794 1522, info@izzardasianart.com, sebastianizzard.com


Japanese Textiles and Calligraphy

Mika Gallery, 16 to 24 March

A selection sutras and waka poetry and Japanese calligraphy from the 7th to 14th century  are on show together with textiles from the 13th to 18th century. A highlight is Yamana-gire, Shinsen Roei-shu, from the  11th/12th century, formerly in the collection of the Sekido Family and published in the Sekido Collection ‘Chitose no Tomo’ in 1928.

Mika Gallery, 595 Madison Avenue, 8/F, NYC, NY 10022, tel 212 888 3900, info@mikagallery.com, mikagallery.com


Kokon Biannual: Spring 2018

Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Art, 13 March to 6 April

Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts is featuring six important works from throughout Japanese history.  On view are a landscape painted on a set of sliding doors by Maruyama Okyo, a Heian-period statue of Fudo Myoo, standing over 54 cm. In ceramics, the gallery is showing a large Shino ware dish and a set of leaf-shaped kosometsuke type blue and white dishes.  A recently rediscovered painting of Guan Yu, also by Ōkyo, is also at the gallery, as well as 12th- century calligraphy,  known as Showa-gire.

Koichi Yanagi Oriental Fine Arts, 17 East 71st Street, 4/F NY 10021, tel 212 744 5577, kokon@earthlink.net




Fast Forward\Looking Back: Jewels of Japanese Art through the Ages

Carole Davenport, 15 to 25 March

The show traces various aspects of Japanese art from the past to present, from a granite sculpture by Hiroyuki Asano to 20th century calligraphy by Morita Shiryu. Other works inlcude a Shigeru Izumi oil painting, celadon porcelain by Taizan, Meiji period, and delicately painted Kiyomizu pottery from the 18th century. A highlight is a  rare Kakiemon 17th-century porcelain figure of Hotei, along with a Muromachi ink, colour, and gold painting of Amida Raigo. Smaller items inlcude lacquer utensils, notably a hidehara kataguchi from the early Edo period with a red interior, black exterior decorated with red and gold foil. Capping off the show is a hand scroll segment of the Wakan Ryoei, or Songs to Sing By, from the 14th century,  in contrast to the singular, bold calligraphies of the 20th century.  Finally, a fine noh mask of Shakumi by renowned carver Yukan, bearing the artist’s seal on the reverse.

Carole Davenport at Tambaran Gallery, 5 East 82nd Street, 2/F, New York 10028, tel 646 249 8500, carole@caroledavenport.com, caroledavenport.com


Tea Bowls: Art of the Five Senses

Ippodo Gallery, 15 March to 7 April

In celebration of Ippodo Gallery NY’s 10th anniversary, the gallery is organising an exhibition of tea wares by more than 15 contemporary Japanese potters. Ranging from young artists to master craftsmen, the works evoke a wonderful feeling of harmony. The five senses are magnified as you hold a bowl in your palms, with each acting as their own microcosmos. This is the second exhibition of tea wares by these artists at the gallery, the first exhibition was in 2014 and include Keiji Ito, Hiromi Itabashi, Kohei Nakamura, Kyusetsu Miwa XII, Chozaemon Ohi XI, Tetsu Suzuki, Shiro Tsujimura, among others.

With the unique process of tea ceremony, appreciation for tea wares differs from that of other crafts. Unlike an artwork that is only appreciated visually, tea ceremony embodies beauty and joyfulness, as achieved through contemplation and tranquility. During the ceremony, the bowl is raised with both hands, and the drinker savours the texture of the piece against his or her lips. Reflection on the green colour of the tea, the full weight of the vessel, and the shape of the kodai, or the foot of the bowl, all add to the experience of pleasure. In a single tea bowl, happiness can be found.

Ippodo Gallery,12 East 86th Street, suite 507, New York 10028, tel 212 967 4899, mail@ippodogallery.com, ippodogallery.com.


Kuniyoshi: The Masterpieces

Ronin Gallery, 14 March to 28 April

Ukiyo-e often encompasses the ethereal, but these examples  bring out the more frightful aspects of bloodshed and wartime within the genre. Sea monsters, skeletons, and princesses dance in woodblock. It includes one of the artist’s most iconic triptychs Tametomo and his Son Rescued from the Sea Monster by Tengu and Princess Takiyasha and the Skeleton Spectre, circa 1845, The latter print tells the powerful story of a warlord’s daughter facing the ghosts of the soldiers lost in rebellion. They loom overhead, becoming one massive skeleton against a deep black backdrop. The gallery supplements with biographical information about Kuniyoshi’s own struggles for success, making this exhibition as informative as it is visually exciting.

Ronin Gallery, 425 Madison Avenue, 3/F,  (SE corner 49th St), New York 10017, tel 212 688 0188, ronin@roningallery.com, roningallery.com


MIRROR MIRROR Reflecting Beauty in Japanese Prints and Paintings

Scholten Japanese Art, 15 to 24 March

Some 40 prints and one painting primarily reflect the show’s theme – on vanity and beauty from its earliest incarnations in Japan. The exhibition explores representations of the mirror, both as a theme itself and as a visual metaphor for viewing other subjects in floating world imagery. Mirrors appear in compositions as accessories or key props in a story being told and can function as ingenious framing devices, or as windows into private space. They provide seemingly endless opportunities for the artist to present an alternate view within a design.

The use of kagami, round bronze mirrors, dates back nearly 2,000 years in Japan to the Yayoi period (300 BC to AD 250). Early mirrors were intimate, usually approximately 4 inches in diameter, with a smooth side of gilded tin which was highly polished to achieve a reflective quality. Precious for their material and their function, mirrors were used for Shinto rituals as well as personal use. In order to slow inevitable oxidation and avert marring the finish it was necessary to avoid touching the surface with bare hands and otherwise keep them wrapped up or covered when not in use. The mirrors with handles, e-kagami, began to be used in the Muromachi period (1392–1573), and in the Edo period (1600–1858) mirrors grew larger, approximately 5–7 inches in diameter, often produced in pairs known as awase kagami (facing mirrors), to facilitate viewing the front and back of larger hairstyles.

An interesting print by Kunisada utilises the hand mirror not as a reflection of the beauty herself but as that of her ardour as a fan of a famous actor. The untitled print from the series Contest of Fans of Modern Actors depicts a young beauty seated beneath the large visage of the intimidating Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791–1859) glaring down at her from within a cartouche in the shape of a folding mirror. By the early Meiji period (1868–1912) glass mirrors became available in Japan and largely replaced the use of traditional bronze mirrors.

Ukiyo-e artists frequently employed a mirror as a framing tool for portraits of kabuki actors or beauties and as a result, the view is exclusively of the reflection and the ‘real’ figure is not seen but implied. A fine example by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861) from 1843 is Mirror of Women of Wisdom and Courage: Kaji of Gion, presenting an imaginary portrait of Kaji, the owner of a teahouse near the entrance to the Gion Shrine in Kyoto who was renowned for her poetry (a collection of her poems was published in 1707).

In addition to reflecting a crisp likeness, a looking glass could be manufactured in larger sizes and required no special handling or periodic re-polishing by a craftsman. In an amusing take on peeking into the boudoir with a newfangled glass mirror, we glimpse into the dressing room of a celebrity actor caught in the act of transforming himself into a role in a print by Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900). The print irreverently shows the actor Kawarazaki Mimasu (Ichikawa Danjuro IX, 1838–1903, the fifth son of Danjuro VII mentioned above) as reflected in a mirror waiting for an assistant (unseen but for his hands) to lower a wig onto his head.

Scholten Japanese Art, 145 West 58th Street, Suite 6D, New York 10019, tel 212 585 0474,info@scholten-japanese-art.com, scholten-japanese-art.com


Contemporary Lacquer by Yoshio Okada and Washi Screens by Kyoko Ibe

Erik Thomsen, 15 to 24 March

Erik Thomsen is showing contemporary artists who pay homage to two long-standing Japanese art traditions: Yoshio Okada (b 1977) in lacquer and Kyoko Ibe (b1941) in screens.

Yoshio Okada’s display is anchored by a set of four boxes depicting different phases of the moon seen through fleeting clouds. Using the time-honoured kanshitsu (dried lacquer) method, Okada made the boxes from layers of hemp cloth combined with the natural sap of the lacquer tree. Modeling the fabric before the sap hardened, he gave each of the boxes a profile that mimics the curve of the heavens, forming the perfect setting for their atmospheric decoration. After painstakingly polishing the black-lacquer surfaces, he applied the moon and clouds in gold and silver foil, thinly cut shell, and the unique Japanese technique of maki-e, relief decoration in gold powders combined with lacquer.

Working with recycled antique handmade washi (Japanese paper), ink and minerals, Kyoko Ibe creates large-scale dynamic designs that, in her words ‘offer our ancestors a new lease of life in the present’. Fashioned out of pulped and dyed paper that incorporates fragments from centuries-old notebooks, her folding screens such as Once Upon a Time, measuring nearly 12 feet in width, convey multiple layers of meaning.

Both oeuvres have been a part of Thomsen’s repertoire for many years, and studying them through living artists gives them a chance to fully delve into the nuances of past and present. In each of the selected works, a shimmer (in Okada’s case of gold maki-e, in Ibe’s of silvery ink) adds a sense of the ethereal to the craft. This otherworldliness of aesthetic is arguably the true unifier of the exhibition, approaching the objects as dreamlike escapes.

Erik Thomsen, 23 East 67th Street, 4/F, New York 10065, tel 212 288 2588, info@erikthomsen.com, erikthomsen.com