Thursday, 20 December 2012

Special issue: In 2013, a second exhibition on Mucha will open, with full support from the Mucha foundation! Keep your eyes peeled!

From March 2013, The exhibition “Alphonse Mucha: An Insight into the Artist” organized by NTV will open in five different places throughout Japan.

Although the Mucha exhibition organized by NTV, first opened under the full support of the foundation between 2004 and 2006, it will be renovated to a structure suitable for the second opening. Basing itself on the key concept “The Hidden Mucha”, the exhibition will introduce not only his works, but will also focus on the heretofore unknown philosophy, ideology, and prayers of Mucha himself.

From Saturday, March 9 - Sunday, May 19, 2013
Mori Arts Center Gallery (Roppongi Hills, Mori Tower, 52nd floor)

From Saturday, June 1, to Sunday August 11, 2013
The Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum

From Saturday, October 26, 2013, to Sunday, January 5, 2014
The Museum of Art, Ehime

From Saturday January 18, to Sunday, March 23, 2014
The Miyagi Museum

From Saturday, April 5, to Sunday June 15, 2014
Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art

*For more details and information on buying tickets, please visit the official website of the Mucha exhibition.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Seeing the Samurai Exhibition in Rotterdam

Rotterdam boasts the Netherlands’ second largest infrastructure and is said to have the most extensive harbor in the world in terms of transactions. It is known for the Boijmans van Beuningen museum, which has a famous collection, and for the Kunsthal, which, while it does not have its own collection, shows consecutive, well-polished exhibitions (and now, of course, known for the recent large-scale art theft, as well..). The city center that was brought down by bombs in the war is represented now by architectural works spearheaded in that period; the first of which were the Cube houses.

At some distance from the city center and the harbor, is the World Museum. Rather than one of Rotterdam’s modern pieces of architecture, it is a traditional Dutch building which was restored and re-released in 2009 as a museum. The World Museum offers a collection made up of roughly two thousand objects from Asia and Oceania, relating mainly to religion.

It is here that an exhibition has opened which is gathering much attention in the Netherlands. The exhibition’s title is “SAMURAI”. Although it is an exhibition on Japanese weapons and armor, it approaches the concept of Bushi, from a different side, represented by the samurai’s manner of doing battle, and considers on its reverse the zen-guided mental world, stepping into the unique culture that was born from this in an ambitious manner. Besides the suits of armor, helmets, swords, banners, and battle emblems, there is an overwhelming collection of as many as three hundred objects: Nō masks representing the art of Nō, loved by the military commanders; a number of ukiyoe prints of the warriors; folding screens upon which scenes of battle are depicted. Especially the room in which the suits of armor and helmets have been so arranged as to give the impression of military commanders holding a strategy meeting, and the room exhibiting just the collection of helmets, make the exhibition a pleasure to behold.

In the Netherlands, where the Japanese-Dutch friendship now spans more than four hundred years, a large amount of Japanese objects are kept at Leiden’s Siebold collection or the National Museum of Ethnology, but for this exhibition most of the armor and helmets were provided by Florence’s Stibbert Collection. At the end of the eighteenth century, the East India Company’s governor-general of the Bengal area, Giles Stibbert had amassed a fortune, and his grandson Frederick put together his massive inheritance to turn his own villa into a museum. After Frederick’s death, the collection was donated to Florence, and although currently open to the general public, its location at the outskirts of Florence is perhaps disadvantageous, and apparently the collection is not visited much.

Despite many of Japan’s helmets and suits of armor having been lost to foreign countries, I am happy that, thanks to collectors such as this, Japanese people have the chance to see these pieces again. Most of the armor and weapons still in Japan have been passed on generation upon generation as the daimyō’s possessions; but the armor on display at this exhibition is, rather than a lord’s possessions, mostly those of the higher and lower classes of warriors. In the Edo period warriors’ lives grew difficult, as if in compensation for enjoying peace, and when the suits of armor which had been passed down for generations were sacrificed for the sake of daily survival, the family crests and old names were erased from them. It is because of this that we still do not know who the original owners were. Might, someday, these suits of armor come home to Japan?

One last thing: the sword and folding screen gifted to the Dutch king Willem the Third by the Tokugawa shogunate, as well as the missive giving notice of permission to establish trade with the Dutch, despite Japan’s being already totally isolated, are items in the exhibition which one truly does not often have the chance to see; they form a true centerpiece to the exhibition.
Rotterdam’s “SAMURAI” exhibition will be open until the 24th of March 2013 (the museum is closed on Mondays).
Willemskade 22-25
3016 DM Rotterdam
the Netherlands
Opening times:
Tuesday through Sunday 10:30-17:30
Closed every Monday, and on 1 January, 30 April and 25 December

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


TodaysArt is an annual Media Art festival that has taken place in the Dutch city the Hague every autumn since 2005. The festival features audiovisual and modern dance performances, concerts, clubbing, installations, and art exhibitions at the city centre’s two theatres, cinema, and the neighbouring buildings of the city hall. This year’s festival, the eighth one running, opened on the night of September 21st with a speech by its director Olof van Winden and a variety of performances. This year NTV Europe, which is based in Amsterdam, and has been supporting art projects over a period of twenty years, participated for the first time in the capacity of a trial collaboration. Through this, the up-and-coming Japanese artists Ei Wada and Ryoichi Kurokawa were welcomed to the festival, and gave their performances in a grand way.

At the centre of the four main venues was built what should be called a monument, put together out of old furniture and other discarded items found in the city: the Vortex of the Raumlaborberlin. On the inside, space was opened up wide to create a dance floor, and the Vortex seems to just fold itself over its visitors, and like a black hole, suck them in. The work is supposed to represent the state of consumer society. Since this venue was set up outside, it was also accessible to the general public who did not have tickets to the festival.

On the night of the 21st, Ryoichi Kurokawa’s “syn_” was performed in the grand hall of the Lucent Danstheater, one of the main venues of the festival; a delicate combination of digital animation and sound that created the image of countless thin lines interweaving.
This black-and-white contrast was impressive also because of Ei Wada’s Braun Tube Jazz Band. In this performance Wada projects sounds, “altered” into images, on twelve Braun TVs, which he strikes and strokes as if playing percussion, creating music.

syn_ by Ryoichi Kurokawa

Braun Tube Jazz Band by Ei Wada
Afer the Braun Tube Jazz Band on the second day, he performed in the Open Reel Ensemble together with Kimitoshi Sato, Takumi Namba, Haruka Yoshida, and Masaru Yoshida. While using the particular character of open reel tape decks, the ensemble recorded the crowd and directly used the material like disc jockeys during this performance, driving the entire sold-out hall wild.
Open Reel Ensemble
Directly beside the Lucent Danstheater is The Hague’s City Hall with its characteristic high-ceilinged atrium and white walls. It was here that a 500 square-metre space was brought to life with 65,000 unsold or discarded CDs put together by hand to create a sandy beach landscape: “Waste Landscape” by Elise Morin and Clémence Eliard. In its centre, the performance “Inneract”, featuring harp, electronics, and visuals. Taking the famous Dutch minimal music composer, Simeon Ten Holt’s “canto ostinato” as a starting point, this improv rendition lasted anywhere from forty-five minutes up to several hours. Visitors were able to enjoy the show from the venue’s upstairs passages and the elevator.

Electricity is indispensable for media art. It is very interesting that the building that supplied electricity, was treated as part of this year’s TodaysArt. At the old power plant building, a short distance from the central venues, in an enormous room, was a group exhibition which took its name from Nam Jun Paik’s artwork “Global Groove”; elsewhere was an exhibition of Turkish media art “Commons Tense”. In the “Global Groove” exhibition, the work “Ideophone 1:36” by Dick Raaijmakers (one of the founders and godparents of electronic music, and of great influence in the development of young people in the Hague), the sound created by the vibration of the speakers making metal spheres jump up, had a delightful ring in that great old power plant. Here, the work of celebrated, masterful artists was on display together with the work of young artists ready to take on the next generation.

The exhibition venue
The theme of TodaysArt 2012 was “the Search and Longing for the Undiscovered”. The sense that especially now in this time of change, an artist can go back to their own roots and treat old things preciously, while still creating novel and radical works, could be perceived in a variety of works. This message and accomplishment was summarized at the opening on the second day with the work “Elements of Light” by The Bell Laboratory and Pantha Du Prince, which made use of countless bells, and which closed with a magnificent standing ovation.

21+22 Sept the Hague
An audiovisual summary of the 8th edition of the TodaysArt Festival

Friday, 14 September 2012

NTV Europe supports TodaysArt Festival

TodaysArt Festival, which took place for the first time in the Hague in 2005, is now entering its eighth year. This year’s festival, featuring spirited artists and researchers from around the world, will open on the 21st and 22nd of September at various spaces throughout the Hague. As a globally cutting edge, provocative art festival, it will not only showcase conventional art forms, but also actively introduce music, dance, and technology as art.
Furthermore, this year brings a new match: NTV Europe joins as a presenting partner, and has succeeded particularly in putting together Japan’s corner. As the first try, we introduce the musician Wada Ei’s Braun Tube Jazz Band and his Open Reel Ensemble, and look forward to drawing much notice.

By joining hands with TodaysArt Festival, NTV Europe hopes to achieve development in the relationship between Japan and the Netherlands in their respective fields of art and culture, and at the same time to spread not only to artists and specialists, but also to regular people, a high-quality program on the spearhead that is contemporary art.

Performance schedule:

Braun Tube Brass Band
Ei Wada
September 21st (Fri)
21.15 - 21.45
In the Foyer of the Theater aan het Spui

Ryoichi Kurokawa
September 21st (Fri)
22.45 - 23.30
at Lucent Danstheater

Open Reel Ensemble
Ei Wada, Kimitoshi Sato, Haruka, Takumi Namba, Yoshida, Masaru Yoshida
September 22nd (Sat)
21.00 - 22.00
In the Small Room of the Theater aan het Spui

*For details, please view the festival’s homepage.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Seeing the Damien Hirst exhibition at Tate Modern

Damien Hirst  Sympathy in White Major - Absolution II  2006 (Detail)  Butterflies and household gloss on canvas  
© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved. DACS 2012. Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates

Could the reason that Damien Hirst is forever sensational, lie in how he combines the intense impact of his work with a tendency to replace the value of his work with monetary value, as if it were all only a game.The news of the current exhibition at Tate Modern was quite the topic even in Japan. We can speculate at the extent of attention considering the special feature put together by the popular art journal BT / Bijutsu Techo.
Furthermore, the commercial facility Hikarie which opened recently in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, houses the Koyama Tomio Gallery, which opens with the exhibition of Hirst’s Spot Paintings. News of this gallery space, which is effectively broadening the playing field, comes together with news of the Tate Modern exhibition

This exhibition is a lineup of masterpieces which, while opposing money and art in one way, in fact maintain a clever balance by looking to their value. The rotting cow’s head, the maggots spilling out of it; flies being born and then hitting the electrical insect killer, making sizzling sounds as they burn to death. Life born from death perishes in another instant before your eyes. The viewer experiences more than enough unpleasantness, and an immense impact. But Hirst’s work does not let the impact end there. It moves around life and death and directly connects to the fundamental themes of art; moreover the work connects to the art market, where it is transferred into monetary value.

At the time of the work’s first showing, he must have been showered in criticism. Now, fifteen years later, the image is known so widely that we can remember it and think, I want to see that work at least once. We can properly call Hirst the darling of the art world, the one which structured an era. It even produced the very peak, bringing work that is simply structured and displaying high quality. No one will disagree that this exhibition will allow us to appreciate Hirst’s masterpieces to our hearts’ content.

However if one were to ask if we got to know Damien Hirst any better, the answer would have to be in the negative. Whether the question of how he forms such distinct concepts as he has from the beginning, or of the sublimation of the process into the work, or the secret of the system that mass-produces such high quality pieces, you will not find the answers at this exhibition. I was expecting content that would show a glimpse of some expression or idea concerning that work. But considering the monetary value of his work has yet to fall, the Tate exhibition must just be another step in raising that value as far as the artist is concerned. Perhaps he wants to keep the thought of a grand exhibition to verify his artistry in the future a little longer, in which case I understand this exhibition. So I shall keep my own excitement for the next such a grand exhibition, in the future as well.

The Tate Modern exhibition on Damien Hirst will be open until September 9th.

Tate Modern
Bankside London SE1 9TG
Opening times:
Sunday – Thursday, 10.00–18.00
Friday – Saturday, 10.00–22.00

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A Single Treasure on Display -Van Gogh Museum-

Pollard Willow, July 1882
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

The newly purchased ‘Pollard Willow’, a watercolor painting by Van Gogh, is now on display for the public at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Although a watercolor, this work is a proper painting by Vincent van Gogh, and its purchase, the first in five years for the Van Gogh Museum , will prove an meaningful addition for the museum. Axel Rüger, the museum’s director, commented on this occasion that this work, as one of the paintings Van Gogh worked on during his stay in the Hague, would be an excellent acquisition.

Before the summer of 1882, Van Gogh worked largely in pencil and pen, and appeared not to have worked in watercolor often. However, from July of that year, he started creating sketches in watercolor, and a change is visible at the same time, from the portraits he had been doing, to landscapes; from sketching exercises to preparatory drawings; and from monochromatic, to colored work. Speaking in terms of Van Gogh the painter, these works were created in a period of important developments.

Letter with letter sketch from Vincent to Theo van Gogh, 31 July 1882
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
This watercolor depicts a landscape; a path runs along a river or canal, near which a tree -the pollard willow- stands, its top branches cropped. In the distance railway depot buildings can be made out, and figures of people. The sky is swallowed in pressing clouds; here is Holland’s specific brand of melancholy weather. In his letters to his brother Theo, Vincent van Gogh writes of things to do with this painting. In one letter, he refers to the willow tree on the road near his house. In another, he writes how pleased he is with the watercolor painting he made. The Van Gogh Museum was already in possession of these letters in which Van Gogh wrote of this painting, and the purchase of the work itself had been a particular ambition for some time.

The painting will be on display in the museum’s underground floor between May 10 and July 10, together with oil paintings from the same period, and related letters. Then, when the Van Gogh Museum enters a period of remodelling in September, the work will feature for another two months only as part of the exhibition at the Hermitage Museum. Because it is a watercolor, it will enter a period of ‘rest’ after this.

Not only the Van Gogh Museum but some others, as well, have recently created exhibitions centered around the display of one work in particular. In February, Madrid’s Museo del Prado featured Breughel’s work, the only just restored The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day, in its own room. A painting acquired in the second half of 2010, it was displayed together with image panels showing stages of the repairs and information on techniques of painting restoration. Then there are the National Galleries of London and Scotland, which recently purchased Titian’s Diana and Callisto, on display in London until July. This work will make a pair with the purchase made in 2009, Diana and Actaeon. Such ‘single treasure’ exhibitions tend to get lost in the shadows of large-scale exhibitions, but they may increase in the near future, with a goal of reporting on restorations and displaying new purchases, and for the sake of connecting museums and people.

Van Gogh Museum
Paulus Potterstraat 7 Amsterdam
(From Central Station in Amsterdam, take tram 2 or 5 to the Van Baerlestraat stop.)
Museum: daily 10 am to 6 pm, Friday to 10 pm
Ticket office: daily 10 am to 6:30 pm, Friday to 9:30 pm.
Shop: daily 10 am to 6:15 pm, Friday to 9:45 pm.
Museum café: daily 10 am to 6:30 pm.
Library Museumplein 4: Monday to Friday 10 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 5 pm
Closed 1 January
*From 29 September 2012 to 25 April 2013, much of the Van Gogh Museum collection will be relocated in the Hermitage Amsterdam.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)

The renovation work at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is well underway with the re-opening aimed for the Spring of 2013. As one of the new parts of the museum, the Asian Pavilion was introduced to the Dutch media recently.

The department’s curator, Mr. Menno Fitski, explained that the Netherlands has developed a deep-rooted relationship with Asia through its longstanding trade relations, and has collected various works of art from especially China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia. Of those collected works the museum owns some 7000 pieces. From this large collection, some 365 pieces will be on display at any one time in the new Asian Pavilion and of those, 250 pieces will be regularly rotated. Eventually almost the entire collection will have been exhibited to the public.

The uniquely shaped Asian pavilion, which is separate building linked to the old Rijksmuseum building, was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Ortiz. The pavilion has a ground floor and a basement with an overall area totalling 670 square meters. The plan is to display works of art from India and Indonesia on the ground floor, and works from Japan, China and Korea in the basement. A pair of Niō (strong, angry guardians of the Buddha) statues from Japan were recently added to the collection. Together with a 12th century sculpture from India representing the god Shiva, and a statue of Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) from China, these form the centrepiece of the pavilion.

Mr. Fitski highlighted three of the pavilion’s special characteristics during his introduction. First, the relaxed atmosphere allows visitors to view the works at leisure. Second is the unique look of the pavilion, which is designed to highlight the works of art displayed within it. Thirdly, despite the building being quite compact, its use of the stairs and hallways give a surprisingly spacious feeling.

Famous works of art that are very popular with visitors, for example Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” and works by other 17th century painters that the Dutch are proud of, will be displayed together in the central part of the new Rijksmuseum. Also, to allow visitors with only a little time to capture the essence of Dutch painters, a special elevator has been built that takes them directly to the Night Watch Room where the “Night Watch” is on display, and then on to the adjacent “Gallery of Honour”.

Starting with the call for a new design, the Rijksmuseum faced many difficulties during the renovation process, but the end is now finally in sight. However, the renovation is not the Rijksmuseum’s only problem. Despite being one of Europe’s model countries economically, the Netherlands has not been able to escape the current economic crisis. Last year the Dutch government drastically cut subsidies to art and music. Therefore, the various agencies involved in the world of art have been forced to find sponsors and funding in order to financially support themselves.

Many organizations are of course sympathetic towards the (fine) arts. An appeal has been sent out to companies with a long-term outlook for public relations and advertising; donations have been requested through ‘patron’ type groups and a campaign has been set up requesting ordinary individuals also to make donations, which in the Netherlands are tax-deductible. Everywhere great efforts are therefore being made to find support for the arts.

Rijksmuseum, The Masterpieces

Jan Luijkenstraat 1, 1071 CJ Amsterdam
Opening hours:
Every day from 9:00 to 18:00
Closed: 1 January
On 25 December the museum closes at 18.00
Please note: the museum ticket counter closes at 17:30!