Art · Thoughts

Art and Politics

Hello everybody.

As I told you in one of my very first entries on here, the embassy staff is quite often invited to art exhibitions and I’ve come to regularly take this opportunity and see some Japanese art.

While last time the exhibition was all about calligraphy, this time I had the chance to see an exhibition by the artist Seiji Fujishiro. I never expected that pictures would be allowed, since they hadn’t been in the last two exhibitions I went to. Now, that I’ve seen the exhibition, however, I understand why they were.

The art of Seiji Fujishiro is both kiri-e, cut-out-art, and kage-e, shadow-art. He arranges his cut-outs from vividly coloured or simply black paper in up to three layers, then lights his artworks from behind from a very soft lightsource.

Fujishiro therefore creates a three dimensional, focused and vivid experience that only unfolds completely when seen in person. The pictures I took don’t hold the magic I experienced while walking through the darkened exhibition, with the only light being the artworks themselves.

He also works a lot with mirrors and water, to reflect his images and enhancing the experience. I tried by best to capture this moment in this video.

One of his pictures, however, really had me thinking and I still wish for an explanation of his intentions on that one.

It depicted an for him very unusual “Japanese” scenery – he is rather known for more western elements, like angels, elves and circus sceneries. There were cherry trees to both sides and the Mount Fuji in the very center. The sun was rising above it (“Land of the rising sun”), and the sun’s rays were alienated flags of other countries. In front of this majestic sun was an aircraft from the Japanese airforce.

From the right side to the left side birds and doves were flying, dragonflies joined in and on the left were only airforce planes, like they were leading this group. The title of the piece is “平和の世界へ – Into a peaceful World”. It was the largest piece of the exhibition and prominantly displayed.

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With the ongoing political discussion in Japan at the moment, whether or not Japan should have constitutional changes to enable the Japanese Defense Force to be an actual army again, I do think of this as VERY controversial. Article 9 of the Japanese constitution clearly states that Japan may not have an army of their own and Prime Minister Abe has had the intention to change this for a while now. This year he has the necessary two thirds of the parliament.

I might be misinterpreting, but to me this was the clearest political statement I’ve ever seen by a person of public interest. Isn’t he saying quite directly that a Japanese army, that holds the traditional Japanese values, can lead the countries of the world into a new era (rise of the sun with the flags)?

I honestly don’t know what to think of this and struggled with his Japanese statement on that matter, so I’m really up for you guys’ opinion on this. Please tell me what you think.

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