Portraits of a Faithful Samurai of True Loyalty
Pictures of the floating world is the poetic name of painting and woodcut genres that reigned in Japan from the 17-20th centuries, featuring landscapes, theatre and stories, sometimes partially historical. A series of colour woodcuts at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts is representative of this style, is entitled Portraits of Faithful Samurai of True Loyalty, created by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798 – 1861), one of the last great masters of the era of Japanese woodblock prints. This is a series of portraits and biographies of 47 Samurai who revenged their master and then killed themselves. It was strictly forbidden for artists to depict recent historical events during the Edo period, that is why theatrical plays about events in the 12th century and the names of the main characters – Samurai – were slightly altered, yet remained easy to figure out. Behind that plot there was a real story. In 1701, one Japanese nobleman by the name of Asano of Ako was provoked by another nobleman to take out his sword in the Shogun’s palace and was forced to kill himself for that act. Asano’s forty-seven Samurai, now called ronin (Samurai without masters) carried out a successful plan and revenged the offender of their master. Acts of revenge were not accepted in Japan then, but nevertheless, this event roused the sympathy of whole country.
The Samurai were sentenced to hanging, but due to the pressure of public opinion they were allowed to commit the noble hara-kiri. Utagawa Kuniyoshi grew up with this story and carved several blocks to illustrate it. Later in 1847- 1848, he completed a full series of portraits. A complete collection of those is a rare thing nowadays, yet a Russian collector Alexander Orlov-Kretchmer has managed to collect those woodcuts. In Russia and in the rest of the world this unique series is displayed for the first time since their creation in Kuniyoshi’s workshop.
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
To February the 14th
Open: 10:00 — 19:00,
every day except Monday
Photographic Minimalism from Masao Yamamoto
There is something in the art of photography, its momentariness, that makes it similar to the poetic form of a haiku. Masao Yamamoto’s photography performed in a rather black and white manner, and employs the visual and poetic aesthetics of this island country. His prints are small — about 5 x 3 inches, almost devoid of colour and make their author seem indifferent to the sophisticated digital gadgets made in Japan for tourists. His photographs are simple, even too simple for those unaware of this simplicity, but suggestive – what is so highly valued in his motherland. The viewer in this case has a chance to interpret and thus complete something unsaid, becoming involved in the world of the photographer. Landscapes, still-lives are his favourite themes. They are like a vague record of places and moments Yamamoto has lived through. For him “holding small-sized prints on the palm of his hand is like holding a memory.”
This exhibition is presented in the premises of the Red October Chocolate Factory – the new location of the Pobeda Gallery that has moved here from Winzavod.
Red October Chocolate Factory
6, Bersenevskaya embankment
Open: 12:00 – 20:00
Gods and Mortals
Indian Miniatures and Sculptures from the Collection of the Indian National Museum (New-Delhi)
If Bernard Picart, author of the book Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde, could only imagine that three hundred years after the publication of his book there would be exhibitions dedicated to Indian gods in Europe, he would certainly be surprised, despite all his tolerance, so ironical was he about seven-seas-away Indians and their cult of gods. In January the State Historical Museum in Moscow presents an exhibition dedicated to the applied arts of Indian craftsmen – featuring miniatures and sculptures representing Hindu gods. The year of 2010 is the year of India in Russia, the current exhibition inaugurates this and displays 111 miniature paintings and sculptures, thoroughly selected by Doctor Daljit from the stores of the National Museum in New Delhi. The exhibits are performed in different techniques ranging in epochs from the 8th to the 19th centuries, illustrating the artistic evolution of Indian applied arts. The exhibition is divided into two categories — eternity and that which is limited within time, historically described as gods and mortals. The central images at the exhibition are the three gods – Brahma – god of creation, Vishnu – who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and Shiva - “the Destroyer”.
The exhibition is organised so that the exhibits create a visual projection of the world of the immortal gods. Thanks to such a perception, Indian culture transforms the abstract into a visible shape, and ideas into images. The other part of the exhibition is about human and mortal beings with their pleasures, usually to a background of beautiful paysages, with an expression of gratitude to nature as to its divine character.
State Historical Museum
To the 15th of February
Open: 10:00 – 19:00
Porcelain – is one of the inventions that came to Europe from China, along with powder, silk and paper. Even samovars and pelmeni – those famous attributes of Russia came from China. Fragile Perfection is the name of the exhibition at the Museum of Oriental Arts. Exhibits of this fine craft dating from the 18th to the 20th century are on display. For Chinese the encyclopaedia of the Celestial Empire, geography itself, its history and mythology, evolution of its artistic concept and even diplomatic relations with other countries can all be found in porcelaine. The main component for the famous China porcelain was found near the village of Gaolin, and the clay was named after the name of the village ‑ kaolin. Europeans who for some centuries paid gold for the fine cups and vases delivered through Eurasia, could not learn the secret of its production for a long time. The best examples of blue-toned glaze, famille rose, famille verte, Longquan celadon or Yixing clay ware are on display at the exhibition, each with its history and rite of application.
Museum of Oriental Arts
To the 22nd of January
Open: 10:00 – 19:00