Yasumasa Morimura – Rembrandt Room Revisited
Dates : October 12 (Saturday) – December 23 (Monday / national holiday), 2013
The Hara Museum is proud to present Yasumasa Morimura – Rembrandt Room Revisited, a 2013 reprise of Yasumasa Morimura’s Rembrandt Room exhibition held in 1994 at the Hara Museum. The works in this show, now part of the Hara Museum Collection, appear together again for the first time in 20 years. Morimura has won international acclaim for photographic self-portraits in which he has become the subject in a famous painting, an actress or some other widely recognizable icon. His first appropriations were of Van Gogh in 1985. These were followed by many famous paintings that now comprise a large body of work that offer unique interpretations of the original artworks and/or their historical background. In 1989, he became a focus of international attention for his contribution to Aperto ′88 at the Venice Biennale. Since then he has held many major solo exhibitions at venues such as the Yokohama Museum of Art and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. As one of Japan′s most well-known artists, he was awarded the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts in 2007 and the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 2011. He was recently named artistic director of the 2014 Yokohama Triennale.
The Hara Museum has held two large-scale exhibitions of Morimura works. Rembrandt Room (1994) was an in-depth examination of the dark and bright sides of the Dutch artist′s life. Self-Portraits: An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (2001) paid homage to the life and loves of one of Mexico′s most famous painters of the 20th century. The Hara Museum also features a permanent installation by Morimura entitled Rondo (1994) which involved a unique conversion of one of the museum’s toilets. The figure in the installation has been adorned with a new outfit for this exhibition.
Please note that the following solo exhibitions by Yasumasa Morimura will be held during the same period as the present show: Las Meninas Renacen de Noche (In Praise of Velásquez : Handmaidens Reborn in the Night), at the Shiseido Gallery in Tokyo (September 28 – December 25) and Yasumasa Morimura: Theater of the Self at the The Warhol in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania (October 6 – January 12, 2014).
About Yasumasa Morimura – Rembrandt Room (1994)
Yasumasa Morimura – Rembrandt Room was held at the Hara Museum from September 10 to November 3, 1994. For this show, Morimura, whose subject at the time was the modern-day “self”, chose to focus on the life of Rembrandt, the renowned 17th century Dutch painter who painted a large number of self-portraits and was a pioneer in the exploration of the “self” in art. Rembrandt emerged in the golden age of modern individualism, confronting the canvas and the mirror with the question, “Who am I?” Highly gifted, he gained wealth and renown early in his career. However, a declining economy and diminishing fame left him lonely and miserable in old age. Morimura put himself in the self-portraits which portray the different stages of the artist’s life and his way of approaching each stage: the energetic exploration of possibilities in youth, the confidence of maturity, and the lack of pretension and honesty with self that marked his old age.
Morimura also played the roles of four people close to Rembrandt – his respected mother, his beloved son, his young, voluptuous wife, and the lover who became his companion after his wife’s death. In contrast to artistic predecessors who have been involved in a search for the authentic self, Morimura proposes the idea of an “open-ended self.” After carefully examining the original paintings, he elucidated the characteristics of these people and their relationships to Rembrandt in his new versions.
Another theme of Rembrandt Room was light and shadow. One of the most fascinating aspects of Rembrandt’s painting is the dramatic contrast of light and shadow produced by applying layers of bright color on a black canvas and spotlighting the main figure. Today, 350 years after the passing of Rembrandt’s candle-lit world, light is represented by the flash of radioactive materials. This light is excessive, obscuring our vision and creating a new kind of darkness. Morimura was preoccupied by this problem of light and darkness as he worked on this series, and expressed his thoughts on it in White Darkness, the culminating picture of the exhibition. After the close of the exhibition, all of the works were purchased by the Hara Museum.
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Hara Museum of Contemporary Art