Curated by: Matthi Forrer
The exhibition at the MAO in Turin “Kakemono. Five centuries of Japanese painting " , first in Italy focused on this form of art, presents 125 antique kakemono as well as painted fans and decorated lacquers belonging to the Claudio Perino Collection, an important collection of works acquired by the Piedmontese collector, one of the main lenders and patrons of the Oriental Art Museum of Turin.
A roll of precious fabric or paper, painted or calligraphed, designed to be hung during special occasions or used as a decoration according to the seasons of the year: the kakemono or kakejiku is a genre of painted work extremely widespread in Japan and throughout Asia oriental , where it takes on different names. The "hanging scrolls" are distinctive of the pictorial production of China, Korea and Vietnam, as well as of Japan itself, and represent the equivalent of the Western "painting" . Unlike our canvases or boards, however, characterized by a rigid structure, the painted rolls have a relatively soft structure and are designed for limited use over time.
Displayed in the tokonoma (alcove) of Japanese houses or left for a few hours alone to sway in the breeze of a garden, these works of art participate in time and movement, while the paintings on canvas or table typical of the Western tradition seem instead impregnated with firmness and continuity. The differences are not only purely formal, but also reflect a different aesthetic and philosophical conception : at the basis of the works on scroll there is in fact an allusion to impermanence and mutation as unavoidable (and positive) elements of existence.
The kakemono exhibited at the MAO , set up in five thematic sections (flowers and birds, animals, figures, landscapes, plants and vegetables) lead the visitor through a very rich world, in which meticulous and naturalistic representations, punctuated with subtle details, are placed side by side with images extremely essential and rarefied, where the form loses its contours, it progressively disintegrates to become a sign evoking powerful suggestions, in an extreme exercise of synthesis and refinement, almost an ante litteram abstractionism.
In the East, painters painted in an "impressionistic", "expressionistic", "abstract" manner centuries before similar forms of expression began to appear in the West. In Asia, however, the different pictorial modalities coexisted, without mutually exclusive in the attempt to define real artistic movements, as happened instead in Western modern art. Among the kakemono exhibited at the MAO are some works by major Japanese artists , including Yamamoto Baiitsu, Tani Bunchō, Kishi Ganku and Ogata Kōrin .