The Art of Japanese Screen
folding screens from the collection of the
Art Gallery of New South Wales
6 November 2004 to 6 February 2005
The folding screen is one of the most distinctive and beautiful forms of Japanese art.
This exhibition displays highlights from the Art Gallery of New South Wales' outstanding
collection of Japanese screens, dating from the 17th to the 19th century.
Known in Japanese as byobu (literally 'protection from the wind'), screens
served many purposes: as room partitions, as settings for special events and as backdrops
for dignitaries. They offered large and inviting surfaces for decorative painting and many
of the finest Japanese artists worked in the format.
Featured in The Art of
Japanese Screen Painting are several examples from the 'Golden Age' of Japanese
screen painting, the period from the late 16th to the 17th century, when Japan was unified
by a new class of military leaders after a century of civil war. The brash new samurai
rulers sought an ostentatious display of their power and wealth and commissioned large
numbers of screens for display in their towering castles and grand residences. These
screens typically reflected the grandiose tastes of their patrons, with striking ink
brushstrokes, vivid colours and brilliant gold leaf backgrounds.
The exhibition also highlights the rich developments in screen painting that came about
after the unification of Japan was completed under the Tokugawa shoguns, who ruled from
1615 until 1868. The peace and stability of Tokugawa rule, and the economic prosperity it
generated, encouraged painters of various schools to create screens in many different
styles - not just for the samurai and aristocratic elites, but for wealthy farmers,
artisans and merchants.
Colourful screens depicting dynamic scenes of everyday life in the pleasure quarters of
the major cities; detailed depictions of the flora and fauna of the four seasons; and
boldly stylised decorative screens in quintessential Japanese style are in included.
Art After Hours Events - Wednesdays 5-9pm
Wednesday 17 November,
6.30pm: Richard Johnson, architect of the new Asian wing at the Art Gallery of
New South Wales, will discuss the influence of Japanese architecture on architectural
projects he's been involved with, including the Gallery's Asian wing and the Australian
mbassy in Tokyo.
Wednesday 24 November, 6.30pm: performance by Riley Lee, shakuhachi
The Art of Japanese Screen Painting