This exhibition presents a visually compelling selection of Japanese woodblock prints — as well as paintings and didactic material — that explores the dynamic early work of Japanese landscape artist Kawase Hasui (1883-1957). Through the work of Hasui, the exhibition explores the themes of nostalgia and longing — the search for individual and national identity in Japan during the early Taisho period, an era of dizzying social and cultural change. It presents the best work of one of Japan’s modern masters, featuring high quality objects that are compelling visually, often rare, and broadly resonant. The core themes of this art — the exploration of the native landscape and the discovery of a new urban beauty in response to the anonymity of modern life — are as relevant to American audiences now as they were to Japan in the 1920s.
The works selected for this exhibition focus on Hasui’s most creative period of woodblock print design: the years from 1918 to the Great Earthquake of 1923. The exhibition utilizes the unparalleled collection donated to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by preeminent Hasui collectors, René and Carolyn Balcer.
The exhibition is curated by Kendall Brown, Professor of Asian Art History at California State University, Long Beach, and author of earlier books on Hasui and several catalogues on modern Japanese prints. It will be accompanied by a major catalogue including essays by leading scholars from North America and Japan.