In celebration of our newest show, Edo Pop, each week, we are giving you a taste of the sensuality, fashion, and decadent entertainment of young urban sophisticates of Japan’s pre-modern era. If you haven’t experienced Edo Pop yet (or even if you already have), stop on by the MIA! Read more about the exhibition here.
How do you challenge society’s assumptions of appearance and reality?
Nø mask carver Bidou Yamaguchi launched out in a new, heretical direction in 2004. He began to fashion three-dimensional “masks” inspired by icons of Western art, like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The masks compel us to reconsider these famous visages divorced from their settings and to question our assumptions about “appearance” and “reality.” Recently Yamaguchi has been inspired by the enigmatic woodblock print artist Tøshñsai Sharaku. As with his masks of Western masterpieces, he fastidiously reproduces every detail, including damage to the prints caused by mold and soiling. Part of the mystery and gravitas (conveyed by the Japanese term yugen) of historical Nø masks derives from their age. Even traditional masks depicting young women possess a numinous quality, owing in part to the masks’ timeworn appearance.
Based on a design by Sharaku, this mask represents the actor Øtani Oniji in the role of Edobei, a manservant in the play Koinyøbø somewake tazuna performed at the Kawarasaki Theater in 1794. In the play, Edohei is a villainous thief and robber.
Read more about this mask!
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