Japanese if you please

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I can’t believe I went all the way to Ursinus College and saw only one of the two shows there. How dumb is that?
azechi, umetaro
I was up near Norristown wrestling with my kitchen transformation, so I used the opportunity to catch “Modern Impressions: Japanese Prints from the Berman and Corazza Collections, 1950-1980” at the college’s Berman Museum.
watanabe, sadao
The show had caught my eye for two reasons: Number one, the image on the card, Azechi Umetaro’s “Awe of the Mountain” woodblock print (right top) ; number two, now that I was paying attention, I noticed that my fellow townwatcher Frank L. Chance, associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the curators (the other is Matthew Mizenko, from Ursinus). My need to go was clear.

Not all the images were as wonderful as Azechi’s (which combines Asian austerity and economy of means with a sharp sense of humor about traditional Japanese subjects) but there were a number worth the trek.

The subject matter and style of the 72 post-World War II prints ran the gamut, some more squarely in the Japanese tradition, some showing more Western influence (left, Watanabe Sadao’s “Noah’s Ark,” one of three wonderful Watanabe prints on biblical themes, this a stencil on mulberry paper, 1978, 21″ x 18″; right, Oda Mayumi’s “Goddess is Coming to You, Can You Come to Her,” showing Indian pictorial influences with humorous, feminist content, silkscreen, 1976 ).
oda, mayumi
Plus there was lots of Japanese print-making history–including the information that traditionally Japanese prints were a collaborative process, but the auteur approach, with one artist controlling all aspects of the process, is increasingly used.

Anyway, there’s a curator’s talk Tuesday, noon to 1, as well as another curator’s talk and other events listed on the web page. If you’re mad for prints or Japanese art or if Ursinus is not all that far from you, it’s worth a visit.

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