Tag Archives: Japan

fansonstage-2

EXQUISITE EXHIBITION OF KABUKI & NOH FANS @ JAPAN FOUNDATION

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan lover and am never caught without my own beautifully designed fan to keep cool. My prized fan possession is one that Canada’s Grammy-nominated flutist, Ron Korb, brought back for me from Hiroshima where he performed at a memorial concert. It was so beautiful, covered with tiny origami cranes, that I had it framed (below).20200110_154553I couldn’t believe that I forgot to attend the spectacular exhibition of theatrical fans from Japan’s Noh and Kabuki theatre worlds at Toronto’s Japan Foundation located at 1 Bloor East (Royal Bank bldg) but after a reminder email, I dashed in today for a visit and boy, am I happy I did. Fans Onstage closes tomorrow Saturday Jan 11 so hurry hurry hurry!  Admission to the Foundation’s gallery is FREE.20200110_121738 20200110_121843 20200110_121804To quote the information found on their website:  Japan’s association with fans can be traced back to the Nara period (8th century) with the cypress fans made of wooden hinged strips, followed by the invention of paper folded fans in the Heian period (9th century).  As early as the late 10th century the paper folded fans, which differed from flat unfoldable fans, were exported from Japan to the Korean peninsula and China as luxury imports.  In the West, in ancient Egypt and Greece, there were records of folded fans, but the tradition of using fans died out during the Middle Ages.  Whereas in the East the new technique of making fans – the application of paper on both sides of the fan ribs – was brought from China to Japan at the beginning of the Muromachi period (early 14th century).  This new method of manufacture revolutionized the production and export of fans.  Through Portuguese and Dutch traders folding fans were spread out from Japan to the global market and other cultures.20200110_122019 20200110_122028 20200110_121724Paper folded fans have been widely used in people’s daily lives in Japan, but also in the ceremonies of religions and politics, and particularly most effectively in the performing arts.

Noh theatre, which originated in the 15th century, uses fans in the same symbolic way as its masks.  Noh actors are aiming on stage for some kind of unification of their souls with the spiritual being they find in the masks and fans.  Therefore, the treatment of the objects is as rigid as the actors’ own bodies in order to achieve internal energy flow.  The faces are covered by masks and the hands are often invisible, covered by the costume.  One can see the fans as the replacement of hands, but the performers keep their wrists immobile to create concentrated, abstract movements.  On the contrary, in Kabuki theatre – founded in the early 17th century – the actors’ wrists and arms are freely moving their fans.  In Kabuki, the external effects are established by fans, reflecting commoners’ aesthetics.  This is the opposite of the Noh theatre aesthetic which reflects Samurai warriors’ philosophy.  In Kabuki dance, performers turn their fans from front to back quickly, or create swaying waves, maneuvering their fans with their arms and wrists.  They even toss fans into the air and catch them.20200110_12210920200110_12210120200110_122138The difference of the internal versus external use of fans in Noh and Kabuki is physically evident in the proportion of the fans.  Noh theatre fans have a silhouette almost like an upside-down equilateral triangle, whereas Kabuki fans are wider horizontally.  In spite of these physical differences, one thing is common: they are all beautifully handcrafted.  In both Noh and Kabuki, fans are far beyond decoration or props.  They are the handheld splendours which can conjure universal imagery in the theatrical experience.20200110_12215620200110_122204For directions and times, visit the Japan Foundation’s website: www.jftor.org and remember – only 1 day left to see these magnificent works of art.20200110_122545

HUANG Fukushima No 1 Okuma 2017

URBAN GALLERY PRESENTS PHOTOGRAPHER PENG-KUEI (BEN) HUANG – SCOTIABANK CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL

After yesterday’s successful launch to the annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Urban Gallery invites lovers of photography and art to visit BEN HUANG‘s haunting solo exhibition “SOLEMN PINES, FADING THINGS” running throughout the month of May.20190504_140133

 

In the beginning there was an earthquake, then a massive wave took everything.  But just as things couldn’t get any worse, an explosion at Fukushima coast released dangerous amounts of radiation. Survival instinct took over: residents left behind things that were precious to them as they escaped. And the trauma remains, like ghosts of the dead lingering upon the land. Over time, as debris is cleared and towns are being rebuilt, the sorrow persists. HUANG Relics Okuma 2016HUANG Rikuzentakata 2013 HUANG Rikuzentakata 2017Ben Huang began visiting Tohoku coast in Northeastern Japan in 2012 with an idea of documenting the transformation in the aftermath of the disaster. Throughout his numerous journeys since then, he learnt how a supposed recovery effort has had a profound impact on the environment and the people living there. These photographs are a testament to such a change; they tell a story of hope and uncertainty of the future, as well as grieving for the lost. It is hopeful yet somber, fragile yet strong, and vulnerable but determined as the region and its inhabitants come to terms with the tragedy.HUANG Okirai Port Ofunato 2018 20190504_130746 20190504_130813 20190504_130831ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Native of Taiwan, Peng-Kuei “Ben” Huang first moved to Indonesia in 1990 and later to Los Angeles, California in 1993. In 1997, he attended Pitzer College where he studied international politics. He began to take an interest in photography in 2001 and left for San Francisco where he earned a BFA degree in 2004. In 2008, he attended the Magnum Workshop Toronto under the guidance of renowned photographer Larry Towell and was selected as one of the finalists for the Scotia Bank Prize.  Ben has been living in Canada since 2005 and splits his time between Canada and East Asia. www.benhuangphotos.com

Ben was thrilled to welcome family and friends to Urban Gallery which was soon packed and buzzing!20190504_141335 20190504_141451 20190504_141509Toronto arts journalist, Mark Hasan, interviewed Ben (below) who was happy to share his thoughts on the current state of the environment, esp. around the Fukushima reactor that released dangerous amounts of radiation and is still impacting the world’s oceans.20190504_134532You have another opportunity to meet Ben in person – Saturday May 25th (2-4pm) – the gallery looks forward to welcoming those interested in the art of photography and learning from Ben’s first-hand accounts of how Japan is recovering from the earthquake & tsunami. All photographs are available for purchase – the archival pigment prints are 16″ x 24″ (framed or unframed) and are in limited editions of 20.  Further details: www.urbangallery.ca20190504_130715