By ICHIRO SHIMIZU, Rafu Staff Writer
The first U.S. exhibition by Nihonga-In, a Japanese painting group, is going on through Sunday, July 26, at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo.
I visited the opening on July 5 to see some lectures and demonstrations at JACCC’s Doizaki Gallery. More than 30 paintings are displayed, including last year’s Robert Crowder Award recipient, Eriko Urano’s “Peregrinations.” Urano attended the opening reception.
Also displayed was the 2013 Robert Crowder Award winner, “The Serene Guardian Spirit of the Village” by Ai Hammoto.
The late Robert Crowder (1911-2010) moved to Japan before World War II. He was fascinated by Nihonga and studied under the artist Shunko Mochizuki, who was one of the founders of Nihonga-In in the 1930s. “Endangered Birds of Japan,” a series of large-sized byobu (screen) paintings, is regarded as Crowder’s greatest achievement.
This first exhibit of Nihonga-In was organized by Yasumasa Tanano, who represents the Robert Crowder Foundation to promote cross-cultural understanding while introducing today’s Nihonga to United States.
Nihonga, Japanese-style paintings, were created as the opposite of Youga, Western-style paintings, which were introduced to the general public in Japan during the Meiji period (1869-1912). Nowadays, it is a little hard to make a definition of Nihonga to separate it from Youga, because many types of mediums are available.
But using iwa-enogu (mineral pigments) and nikawa (glue made from cow skin) on washi (rice paper) would be a traditional method of painting Nihonga.
Even without all the definitions of Nihonga, you will have an interesting experience and a pleasant time at the exhibit.
JACCC is located at 244 S. San Pedro St. (between Second and Third streets), Los Angeles. Gallery hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m.; closed Monday. Free admission. For more information, call (213) 628-2725 or visit www.jaccc.org.