【Exhibition】Seitei Returns! Seitei Watanabe exhibition, part of the joint Japanese-French ‘Japonisme 2018’ project, returns to Kashima Arts, Tokyo.
English Version : Judy Evans
The acclaimed 2017 Seitei Watanabe exhibition is back for a second time at Kashima Arts, this time with a different collection of his works, offering art lovers a chance to see Seitei’s works in Tokyo before they head to France. Seitei Watanabe’s work will feature in the ‘Meiji, Splendors of Imperial Japan’ exhibition opening at the Paris Guimet Museum of Asian Art in October. The exhibition is part of the Japonisme 2018 project, jointly sponsored by the Japanese and French governments to commemorate 150 years since the Meiji Restoration.
Despite Seitei’s important contribution to the world of Japanese art, he has been largely overlooked by Japanese art historians, possibly because he did not move in the usual art circles or take on an apprentice, dedicating himself solely to his painting. It is only in recent years that Seitei’s work has begun to receive proper recognition. Now, 150 years since the Meiji Restoration and 100 years since the death of the artist, the 2018 ‘Seitei Returns!’ exhibition seeks to highlight Seitei’s artistic achievement.
About Seitei Watanabe
Seitei was born in 1851 in Kanda Sakuma-cho, Edo (old Tokyo), during the final years of the Tokugawa shogunate, and died in Asakusa, Tokyo in 1918. He was a highly accomplished painter who lived through the birth and development of modern Japan. He produced designs for Japan’s first export company and in 1878 travelled to Paris with art dealer, Tadamasa Hayashi, who introduced ukiyo-e to Europe. Seitei started out as a traditional painter emulating artists such as Yōsai Kikuchi and Zeshin Shibata, working in a style typical of the Edo Period. Things changed though when he reached Paris and became caught up in the japonisme craze. There his work influenced impressionists such as Degas and Manet and he was awarded a bronze medal at the 1878 Paris Expo. Upon his return to Japan, Seitei worked with cloisonné artist, Sōsuke Namikawa, on the decorations for Akasaka Rikyū Palace, the State Guest House. He was a prolific illustrator, and worked on numerous publications.
Features of the Current Exhibition
—Jūni-kagetsu (Twelve Months) set of 12 hanging scrolls.
Each of the 12 scrolls depicts exquisitely rendered kachō-ga (flower and bird paintings), featuring themes for each month of the year.
—Cloisonné works by Sōsuke Namikawa
Seitei Watanabe created designs for cloisonne artist, Sōsuke Namikawa. The two artists are renowned for their elegant flower and bird images, most notably those that adorn the State Guest House, Akasaka Palace.
—The official catalogue from the 1878 Paris Expo
A rare copy of the official catalogue from the 1878 Paris Expo, which Seitei provided illustrations for, will be on display.
—Mini book of illustrations on sale
Plates of the works in this exhibition have been compiled into a mini picture book, the perfect size for a gift or souvenir.
Exhibition Details: ‘Seitei Returns!’ – Seitei Watanabe Exhibition.
Exhibition Venue: Kashima Arts, Kyōbashi 3-3-2, Chuō Ku, Tōkyō.
Dates: Saturday, September 15, 2018 – Saturday, September 29, 2018.
Time: Daily from 10:00 – 18:00
Subway Ginza Line, Kyōbashi Station, 1minute on foot from Exit 3.
Subway Yūrakuchō Line, Ginza Itchōme Station, 2 minutes on foot from Exit 7.
Tōei Asakusa Subway Line, Takaracho Station, 5 minutes on foot from Exit A4
JR Tokyo Station Yaesu South Exit, 6 minutes on foot.
Sponsors: The Japan Art Inheritance Association
Project Collaboration: SEI-RIN, Kashima Art
Support: French Embassy in Japan; Institut francais du Japon; Maison Franco-Japonaise Nichibutsu Kaikan.
Special Talk Event:
Guest speakers: Art historian, Mr Yūji Yamashita and Mr Ryō Furuta, Associate Professor at Tokyo University of Fine Arts.
Date: Friday, September 21, 2018. Venue opens at 17:30, talk starts at 18:00.
Venue: Maison Franco-Japonaise Nichibutsu Kaikan Gallery (Ebisu 3-9-25, Shibuya Ku, Tokyo)
Admission: 2,000 yen (audience members receive a free mini picture book). Reservations required.
Gallery Talk Session
Date: Sunday, September 23, 2018. Begins at 16:00
Guest speakers: Koichiro Noji (Director, Sen-oku Hakukokan Museum Tokyo); Tony (Art Teller); Masao Takahashi (Ornithologist)
Venue: Kashima Arts, Kyōbashi 3-3-2, Chuō Ku, Tōkyō.
Admission: Free. Reservations required. All reservations are through Kashima Arts, by phone or email (in Japanese).
Judy Evans is a high school teacher of English and Japanese, and a Japanese-English translator. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and Art History and has studied production horticulture and landscape design. Judy has a keen interest in the internet environment and has administered websites for a number of organisations. She lives on a small farm in rural New Zealand and is a frequent visitor to Japan.