ARTSQUARE KAN INTERNATIONAL
We design, plan, produce and manage shows featuring Japanese arts and crafts and, in this international edition of ArtSquare, we introduce the work of eleven Japanese artists. In doing so, we aim to showcase their works to an international audience and to highlight their distinctive artistic and aesthetic sensibilities.
Art Stage vol. II 2021-2022
In this edition of Art Stage, the work of eleven notable artists – 8 men and 3 women – is featured and will be displayed at the ArtSquareKan from November 23 to December 12, 2021 in Umegaoka, Tokyo.
I gave the artists a simple brief – make whatever you most want to make, express whatever you most want to express, and share whatever you most want to share – and they took that brief to heart, notwithstanding very different disciplines, ages and careers.
Handmade art embodies a special kind of energy, and the artists made full use of it when they put form to their skills and creativity. I’m very pleased with the work on display, as I hope you are, and I trust you will carry some of that pleasure home with you.
Chizen Kondo, ArtSquareKan Planning and Management
In spite of many years working in the world of arts and crafts, I sometimes feel unsure of myself. I entered this field as a young salesman at a famous Ginza department store where a senior sales associate gave me this advice. “A lot of untrustworthy people work in this field, and you should be careful with whom you associate.”
It’s been years since I was given this advice and, while I never worked with anyone decidedly ill-willed, there have been people with whom I’ve had to be careful. This was certainly not the case, however, with Noriko Hakozaki, owner of Ikoma Ceramics, located in a quiet residential neighborhood of Nara. She’s worked with many craft and ceramic artists, and her guidance is widely appreciated by Japanese and foreigners alike.
While we haven’t spoken for years, I clearly recall the counsel she once gave me. “Don’t try to be like me. If you do, you’ll fail. In my time, I had to figure out what to do on my own and, in your time, you’ll have to figure out what to do on your own.” This advice was given in matchless Osaka dialect.
Her words shocked me and have stuck in my head - you have to figure it out on your own. I think about this every year when I begin planning for ArtStage. Am I in sync with the times? Can I capture who the artists are and what their works convey? I’m not sure I can, but I do my best trying.
The famous Zen master, Koudou Sawaki, once said, “What’s right today isn’t what’s right tomorrow. Everything changes, moment by moment. We live in our efforts to change moment by moment.”
Three different voices saying the same thing. Pay attention, be yourself and live in the moment. I’m following their advice.
Translation : Dr.Mark Fruin
Chicago-born Mark Fruin, translator of the Art Stage catalogue into English, first came to Japan in 1964, the year of the first Tokyo Olympic Games. Trained as a historian of Japan at Keio and Stanford Universities, he taught Japanese history and modern business strategy in Canada, France, Japan, Singapore and the United States. He still does research on Japan while farming and living in California, and he is often in Japan with his partner Arico Sano.
We are very grateful to him.
I’ve never translated anything to do with art before this edition of ArtStage and, admittedly, I struggled. Many words and concepts were unfamiliar. But, in the midst of my labors, some things stood out. Artists work in the here and now, but their pasts – upbringing, studies, training and life experiences – are very much part of their work. There’s always pushes and pulls between the past and present, tradition and invention in art as in life.
Mark Fruin (Stanford Ph.D.)