GIAPPONE. Terra di Geisha e Samurai

From 30 Jan 2020 to 2 Jun 2020

Villa Reale

This Exhibition is a journey through Japan, a country whose culture and arts have always fascinated, for great variety and refinement. The Art- show, developed by Francesco Morena, offers a cross- section of the traditional arts of the extreme-eastern archipelago through a precise selection of works dating from the 14th and 20th centuries, all coming from the collection of Valter Guarnieri, a collector with a great passion for East Asia, who join, on this special occasion, some kimonos from the collection of Lydia Manavello, collector from Treviso with knoledge of Asian fabrics. The exhibition is produced by ARTIKA, under the sponsorship of Comune di Monza.

The central part of the Exhibition is dedicated to the binomial Geisha- Samurai, the military class dominated the country of the Rising Sun for a very long time, from the 12th to the mid-19th century, imposing its political willngness and elaborating a very refined culture whose echo is still felt today in many areas.

The geisha, or more generally the feminine beauty as we understand it (oval face sprinkled with white powder, very elegant dresses and cadenced manners), represented for Japan an equally rooted cultural topos, by the very cultured court ladies of the heian period (794-1185) to the courtesans lived between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, so well immortalized by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), the painter who, better than any other, has returned the liveliness of the neighborhoods of the pleasures of Edo (the current Tokio)

From the world of men to the very crowded world of gods, the synthesis of indigenous beliefs and influences from the Asian continent. Buddhism, in particular, of Indian origin, has come to the archipelago through China and Korea. It deeply permeated Japanese thought, especially in its variant of Zen, which in this section is witnessed by a group of paintings in the format of the vertical roll depicting Daruma, the mythical founder of this sect. This fascinating approach to Japanese art and culture continues to introduce to the daily life of its people: from entertainment activities such as kabuki theatre, from the use of kimonos to the preference of Japanese artists for micro-sculpture. Of the latter we find example in the nucleus

A section of the exhibition is reserved for the relationship between the Japanese and nature, which in Shintoism, the philosophical and religious doctrine of the archipelago, is an expression of divinity. This privileged relationship with Nature is explored here through a series of paintings on vertical roll, some of which were made between the 19th and 20th century, at the dawn of modern Japan.

In the mid-nineteenth century, after more than two centuries of conscious isolation, the country decided to open up to the world. Thus, in a few decades, Japan advanced with conviction towards modernity. Meanwhile Europeans and Americans began to appreciate the fine arts of that people and many came to discover the mythical archipelago. The changed scenario led many artists to adopt foreign techniques and styles, and many artisans to produce works explicitly intended for foreign buyers.

Among the unpublished art forms for Japan of those times, the author’s photography certainly occupied a place of choice. Foreigners who visited the archipelago very often purchased photographs to preserve and share a memory of that mysterious and beautiful country. This is the case of the stranger who acquired the nucleus exposed in the exhibition, who noted in Spanish language, in the margin of the photographs, the descriptions of the places and the activities depicted in his shots.

The last room is reserved for one of the most complex and fascinating art forms of Japan, writing. Large screens decorated with powerful calligraphies conclude the exhilarating exhibition path.