Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Art, and Tradition

Exhibition has special relevance in Richmond, a city that embraces tattoos

This summer, VMFA will explore the artistry of Japanese tattoo with a photography exhibition organized by the Japanese American National Museum. The works will be on display from May 29 through September 27, 2015.

“The art of tattoo is something we haven’t deeply explored until now,” Director Alex Nyerges said, “but as a comprehensive art museum, we are interested in bringing attention to artists who have garnered international acclaim in their field. It’s especially relevant to us since Richmond ranks as the third most tattooed city in the United States. This exhibition also acknowledges roots in Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, which are represented in the museum’s permanent collection.”

The exhibition is a first of its kind and focuses on the work of seven internationally acclaimed artists – Horitaka, Horitomo, Chris Horishiki Brand, Miyazo, Shige, Junii and Yokohama Horiken – along with works by selected others. Artists are inspired by the Japanese tradition of tattooing and heavily influenced by the traditional Japanese arts of calligraphy and ukiyo-e woodblock printmaking. Specially commissioned photographs by Kip Fulbeck, exhibition designer and photographer, of work by each artist will be displayed alongside tools and relief carvings, as well as a re-created Shinto shrine. The variety of photographs, including life-size pictures of full body tattoos, will examine current practices in Japanese tattooing in both the United States and Japan. Through the endurance and dedication of these tattoo artists, Japanese tattooing has persevered and is now internationally renowned for its artistry, lineage, historical symbolism, and skill.

Photo Shoot with Glen McClure
VMFA guests will have the opportunity to have their tattoos photographed by artist Glen McClure. Select images will be featured on VMFA’s website.
Friday, May 29, 4 – 5:30 p.m.
Free, no reservations required

Perseverance: Creating the First Exhibition Exploring Japanese Tattooing as Fine Art
Opening talk with Kip Fulbeck, exhibition artist, designer & photographer
Friday, May 29, 6 – 7 p.m.
$8 (VMFA members $5)
Artist and exhibition designer Kip Fulbeck discusses his role in creating Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Tradition, and Art. The groundbreaking photographic exhibition explores the rich history and artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos long with its influence on modern tattoo practices.

Gallery Walk with Exhibition Artist Kip Fulbeck
Saturday, May 30, 2 – 2:45 p.m.
Free with exhibition ticket

Art History Class
Understanding the Art of Tattoo: The Perseverance of Traditions in Contemporary Japanese Art
With Margaret Richardson, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor, Christopher Newport University
Thursdays, June 4 and 11, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
$50 (VMFA members $45)

Tattoo Film Festival
Friday, Sept. 4, 3 – 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 5, 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; reception for festival ticket holders, 5 – 7 p.m.
Films with guest artists, including exhibition curator Takahiro Kitamura, performances, and gallery talks. A festival pass is available for $25 (VMFA members $18). Pass includes entrance to films, gallery talks and cash-bar reception on Saturday evening. Individual film tickets may be purchased for $8 (VMFA members $5).

About the exhibition

  • TITLE: Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Art, and Tradition
  • DATES: May 29 – September 27, 2015
  • CURATORS: Takahiro Kitamura (Horitaka), with photography and design by Kip Fulbeck. Organized for VMFA by Dr. Lee Anne Hurt Chesterfield, Interim Deputy Director for Art and Education and Assistant Curator of Ancient American Art.
  • ORGANIZER: The traveling version of Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Art, and Tradition is organized by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California, and is supported, in part, by Mariko Gordon and Hugh Cosman.
  • ITINERARY: Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, March 8 – September 14, 2014; VMFA, dates above.
  • ADMISSION: $10 for adults; $8 for seniors 65+, youth (7 – 17) and students with school ID. Free for VMFA members, children 6 and under, and active-duty military personnel and their immediate families.
  • CATALOGUE: A companion book of the same title features additional photographs and writings, and is published by the Japanese American National Museum.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
VMFA’s permanent collection encompasses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Its collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation. With acclaimed holdings in American, British Sporting, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and Modern and Contemporary art – and additional strengths in African, Ancient, East Asian, and European – VMFA ranks as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus lively after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program includes traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA, a certified Virginia Green attraction, is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit www.vmfa.museum.

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