Gallery Hanakagesho is proud to present a contemporary netsuke exhibition on Yōkai (monsters and apparitions).
In Japanese netsuke sculpture, auspicious subjects were originally common, having roles to ward off evil and to bring good luck. On the other hand, they also brought slight fear and skepticism. Certainly, it can be said that today we enjoy the legacy of the Yōkai craze that arose during the Edo Period.
Three factors: Yōkai, the Edo Period, and netsuke – in other words: skepticism, nostalgia, and the small and the cute – combined as a potent brew. I believe this was "A Stroke of Good Fortune".
This exhibition follows a highly successful show that exceeded all expectations in 2018.
In a new development, three artists from the Shanghai contemporary netsuke team will also take part and exhibit Chinese Yōkai.
A grand Yōkai battle! Just an exaggeration but the international exchange possible from the meeting of Yōkai and netsuke is very exciting.
For the rest of the September summer, the big Yōkai festival will feature 22 contemporary netsuke artists, from veterans to young artists in addition to our guests from Shanghai.
There will be a total of approximately forty works with each artist contributing one or two pieces.
And despite the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition will go ahead. The pandemic has affected all of society, but in a development we did not foresee, we will hold the exhibition via a specially constructed Internet site.
For those who would like to visit the gallery in person, we apologize for the inconvenience but we ask that you make an appointment. Along with the artists, we would be grateful for your understanding.
The difficulties of daily life continue, but if we were all able to absorb energy from the immortal Yōkai, there would be no greater delight!
At the end of 2017, fellow netsuke artist Koma came up to me and said, “Shisui, I challenge you to a Yōkai duel!” This was the start of the Mokke no Saiwai (A Piece of Luck) exhibition.
The number of participants, however, grew and in all there were 15 participants for the first Mokke no Saiwai Yōkai netsuke exhibition. And this year, there will be 22 participants in the second Mokke no Saiwai exhibition. I am really looking forward to it.
When we talk about contemporary netsuke, those styles that are cute, heartwarming, realistic, calming, and lucky are common. In contemporary netsuke, the Yōkai is still a minor motif. But from the Hyakki Yakō Emaki (Scroll of Pandemonium) at the Shinju-an, a sub-temple of Daitoku-ji Temple in Kyoto, Sekien TORIYAMA (1713-1788) and Shigeru MIZUKI (1922-2015) (Ge-ge-ge no Kitarō) turned Yōkai into characters. Gradually, Yōkai has become part of the Japanese consciousness, and from the interpretations and viewpoints of various artists, this fascination has become netsuke that, along with Yōkai loving netsuke fans, can be fully enjoyed by everyone.
As mentioned, Koma’s provocation led to the great success of the first Yōkai group exhibition. For me, as Shisui, there was no choice but to go ahead with the second Mokke no Saiwai exhibition.
A final word: It is true that Nakamura Masatoshi, a legend of the contemporary netsuke world, carved a netsuke of the Yōkai Birōn. He not only sourced old Yōkai images, but also Arifumi SATO (1939-1999) ’s Ichiban Kuwashii Nihon Yōkai Zukan (The most detailed encyclopedia of Japanese Yōkai), Jaguar-backs, published by Rippu Shobo Publishing Co. Ltd. in 1972.
With the knowledge that netsuke artists’ passion for Yōkai continues to this day, I declare the Yōkai exhibition Mokke no Saiwai, second edition, open!