PERMANENT PERMANENT Collection 4th term 2017
Auspicious! Food in Sanuki Lacquerware
January 5(Fri)-March 25(Sun),2018

Yusuke Asai《Blue Dog》2015 ©Yusuke Asai,Courtesy of URANO

Masami Isoi《Box with design of plums in plum liqueur, Kinma》2004


“Kawaii”—the Japanese word for “cute”—is an adjective many say without thinking. When do you use it?

Tracing it back through time, its root “kahayushi” (literally “one’s face is aglow”) was used to express having feelings of compassion for something or someone pitiable. Meanwhile, another word which was used to convey the same modern-day meaning, the old Japanese “utsukushi”, (root word of the Japanese for “beautiful”), was used by Middle Heian poet Sei Shonagon to describe innocent children and sparrows. Also, as we see from the recent slang “kimo-kawaii” (“gross-cute”), it is likewise used to describe the grotesque. Pitiful things, small things, childish things, grotesque things, unique things.... “Kawaii” is used to describe a wide variety.

On the surface, “cute” has a very similar meaning to “kawaii”, however, having its roots in the Latin “acutus” (of sharp intelligence and wit, shrewd), it is an adjective which has developed differently from “kawaii”. This means that “kawaii” is an aesthetic unique to Japan.

In this exhibition, we introduce 30 pieces of contemporary art by 12 artists, with “kawaii” as a keyword.

First, we present pieces with pale color schemes and animal motifs, such as Untitled by Minako Nishiyama (characterized by her series of girlish shapes) and Yusuke Asai’s Blue Dog, created from a large quantity of scraps of masking tape. Next come pieces such as Yoshitomo Nara’s Milky Lake and Takashi Murakami’s Manji-Fuji, which showcase children and characters with peculiar appearances. Additionally, we display pieces which give a grotesque impression, starting with Tatsuo Ikeda’s Genealogy of Monsters series. Finally, we put Hiroko Ichihara’s word-based pieces, with the theme of “love and laughter”, on display.

Which pieces might you feel are “kawaii”? And what might you see beyond “kawaii”?

Auspicious! Food in Sanuki Lacquerware

Sanuki lacquerware—an art established by Zokoku Tamakaji, who was active in the late Edo period. Particular foods such as persimmons and grapes are used repeatedly as motifs thereof. The thing that such foods have in common is that they are good omens. For example, peaches, pomegranates, and Buddha’s Hand fruit symbolize great luck, longevity, and fertility respectively, and have been embraced as subjects of auspicious art with hopes for prosperity since long ago.

In this exhibition, we introduce 29 lacquer pieces by 11 artists, based on food including vegetables and fruits.

The ways in which this theme is expressed are quite varied. For example, Joshin Isoi’s Incense case with eggplant design is a photorealistic piece in which the textures and hues of the calyx and fruit of the eggplant, a sign of good luck when seen in one’s first dream of the New Year, are magnificently reproduced. And in his Incense case with persimmon design, Tsuishu carved with the fruit, branches and leaves of the persimmon, symbol of abundance, the ripe fruit is masterfully expressed by making use of the container’s roundness. Meanwhile, Masami Isoi’s Box with design of plums in plum liqueur, Kinma is prepared, expresses the passage of time until it will finally be able to be tasted. This piece is one in the Plum Blossom series, and is on displayed alongside another Kinma Box from the same series, which portrays a butterfly, drawn by the scent of plum blossoms, coming to drink nectar.

Please enjoy the auspicious artwork, appropriate for the New Year, and the variety of Sanuki lacquerware techniques.


January 5(Fri)-March 25(Sun),2018
Permanent Collection Gallery
Monday(the following weekday if Monday is a holiday)
Monday - Saturday & Holidays: 9:30 - 17:00 (Entry until 16:30)
*Until 19:00 during special exhibitions from Tuesday through Saturday and national holidays *Last entry is 30 minutes prior to closing.
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【General 】200yen(160yen)
【University students】150yen (120yen)
【High school age or younger/ Seniors 65+】Admission free
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※Free admission for those with a physical disability certificate, rehabilitation certificate, or mental disability certificate.
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