Future Forward

Japanese Kōgei at NYC’s MAD

Japanese Kōgei | Future Forward, which runs until  February 7, 2016 at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City  highlights the work of 12 kōgei artists, examining the changing role of the craft within Japanese culture in contemporary times.

The exhibit is curated by Yūji Akimoto, Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. Featured artists include Katsuo Ayoki,  Yūki Hayama, Takashi Ikura, Tatsuo Kitamura (Unryūan), Takurō Kuwata, Masayasu Mitsuke, Kōhei Nakamura, Shinkyō Nakamura, Harumi Noguchi,  Toshio Ōhi, Yuri Takemura and Shin'ya Yamamura.

Established during the late 19th century Meiji period, Kōgei is translated as "artisan crafts associated with specific regions in Japan. Kōgei is embedded in tradition, upholding conventional cultural ideals and aesthetics via specialized techniques and materials. Kōgei artists see their role as one that upholds traditional Japanese culture of the past, a time that hindered the opportunity for personal expression, addressing topical or international issues.

Although 21st century kōgei remains inspired in centuries of cultural traditions, the work of the artists Future Forward takes on a controversial shift—moving away from tradition by incorporating into their work individual expression and addressing ideas about the future.

“There is a technical ability inherent in kōgei that has the capacity to unleash intense, futureoriented visual imagery,” noted Akimoto in exhibits press materials.  “The exhibition considers the contemporary relevance and globalization of kōgei by examining innovative applications of traditional techniques and presenting works that reflect a high degree of individual expression.”

Each of the 12 artists were inspired from current trends in Japanese culture, ranging from animation, manga, design, and contemporary art. “MAD aims to reveal the fluidity of traditional approaches to artistic expression and their complex relationship to contemporary practice,” said Ronald T. Labaco, MAD’s Marcia Docter Senior Curator. “Japanese Kōgei | Future Forward presents the work of artists who redefine traditions by considering craft at the intersection of the historical and the contemporary, thus radicalizing the genre.”

For more information, please visit www.madmuseum.org.

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