The Art of Travel is a phrase tossed about often, but I’m more interested in discovering art and travel. That’s what I mean by the Art of Travel.
One of the reasons I began to travel was my love of art. It was the love of art that made me wander and wonder. The sculptures of my grandparents, things they had brought from the Orient and installed in their home, presents and trinkets from abroad that sat in people’s homes.
Don’t misunderstand me – I love art from all places, but it was the exotic art of the Far East,the Arab World, Africa, and India that truly drew me into travel. The textiles of India, the burnoose my grandfather brought back from Iraq in the 1940s, the Indonesian knives my other grandfather had on his walls (now on my walls) and all manner of exotic art which called to my soul.
Never was I so touched by art as by that of Japan. It may be the reason why I spent so much of my undergraduate years looking at Japanese culture. Certainly it is why I have watched so many Japanese films, and it might even have something to do with why I ended up living in Hawaii. The Japanese aesthetic sings to my soul. And yet, I’ve still not been to Japan. My travels carried me East from Hawaii and I went as far as South Korea before returning West. Someday, I will visit Japan. I’m certain.
In the meantime, I continue my fascination with Japanese art. I attend lectures when I can, look for antique pieces of Japanese origin, and make art of my own. I also look at different lectures and circuits in places where I am possibly going to be so that I can learn more. An example would be a nature and figure study about the Sculpture of Japan which will be held at the Henry Moore institute until the 20th of April and then again from 14 May to 27 July.
I’m not sure if I’ll be in Yorkshire during that time – If I am, I’ll probably get a hotel in Leeds and then go check out this exhibition which looks at figure and nature studies from the Taisho and early Showa periods. The main thing that drew me towards this exhibition is the prominence of one of my favorite sculptors Hirakusa Denchu (more correctly Denchu Hirakushi) who lived during the Meiji Period of Japanese history – for those who don’t know, that is a period of about 30 years when Japan’s Emperor Meiji transformed Japan from a rural and agricultural feudal society to a modern industrial society that defeated Russia in a war. This was a rich period for art in Japan and there were countless new studies and forms developed and absorbed into Japanese art. Denchu lived a long life, he was 107 when he died in 1979 which might be a part of why he continues to fascinate me. Our lives overlapped for 8 years. The other artists featured in the exhibition Hashimorot Heihachi and Takamura Kotaro were perhaps more influential but died well before my time.
This is certainly an exhibition that I recommend anyone who finds themselves in Yorkshire attend. You will be witness to the birth of new forms of expression by three masters. Yes, it is art that I travel for … and food. The big question is, Why haven’t I yet been to Japan?
Do you travel for art? Tell me about it!