The work of some of the most important Japanese artists of the past 100 years will be exhibited in Milwaukee at Art Japan: 2021-1921, a new exhibition from The Warehouse collection which runs from July 9 to September 24.
With over 80 works in the exhibition by 18 artists, the art, ideas and studio practice of each artist will be presented in depth through multiple works. The exhibition includes painting, drawing, modern and contemporary prints, constructions in silver and gold leaf, as well as ceramics, basketry, textiles and recently acquired art fibers. . The exhibition leans towards the contemporary but as is so common with Japanese art, has deep roots in traditional methods and materials.
Warehouse owners John Shannon and Jan Serr have collected the work over the past forty years for their own edification and study. The collection is personal. They live with these works at home, where they are appreciated for their know-how, their refinement, their line, their spontaneity, their invention and their pure aesthetics.
âPicasso once said that there are only two types of art: the good and the bad,â Shannon said. âAs collectors, we don’t believe in the artificial hierarchy of the arts. We make no distinction between what is called fine art, decorative arts or finely crafted objects. We believe that a large oil painting of a historical subject is not inherently superior to a finely crafted ceramic bowl that is new, fresh, and beautiful every day.
In addition to including modernist woodcuts by famous artist Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927), a special part of the exhibition pays homage to Toko Shinoda, who died on March 1, 2021 at the age of 107. Shinoda worked with sumi ink paintings and prints, blending calligraphy with abstract expressionism. In the late 1940s and 1950s she lived in New York City and exhibited with Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and others. His work is exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
âFrom an artist’s perspective, you start with a clear mind, working in the moment,â Serr said. âA calligrapher, for example, with a brush full of sumi ink, applies the ink directly, quickly and confidently. The first notes are the final notes. Likewise, for the observer it is important to approach each work of art with a clear and open mind, not prejudging anything, appreciating everything including a crack in a glaze or the change of color in a weave.
Located at 1635 W. St. Paul Avenue, Art Japan: 2021-1921 is the second in a trilogy of exhibitions at The Warehouse exploring Asia. The first show was Jan Serr: Photographs of a Painter in India (2019), and the third will be Jan Serr: yesterday and today – Photographs from China, which opens in October 2021.
The curator of the exhibition is Annemarie Sawkins, who has lived in Japan, has curated several Asian art exhibitions and has a deep appreciation for Japanese art and design. For The Warehouse, she previously organized On the nature of Wisconsin: 80 years of work by 40 artists. She is currently in the final stages of a book on Wisconsin art history.