Stephen LeWinter

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Stephen LeWinter
This presentation features the work of several artists that combine traditional and experimental techniques. Their work is a blending or fusing of Eastern and Western Aesthetics, as well as traditional and experimental media. The result is powerful, unique but subtle imagery that visually comments on certain aspects of Japanese society. There is a vitality and originality to be found in this work that embraces new ideas and struggles with personal interpretations or solutions.
The themes found in the artwork of Mariko Mori embrace traditional Japanese customs, rituals, religion and the role of women in today’s society. Her art is an attempt to look inward at Japan. Like the American Andy Warhol and American photographer Cindy Sherman, Mori creates different personas and situations that can be though provoking, even disturbing. The issue of identity in all of its many manifestations is the underlining basis for her work.
In the self portrait series Mori presents herself as an anime or manga heroine and also comments on the nature of Pop Culture. Mori’s capsule piece is an artistic interpretation of the Japanese tradition of the “Jisei” or farewell poem to life. Mori views death as not an end of life, but a continuous journey.

In her installation work “The Dream Temple” Mori expresses themes of energy, meditation and technology. Like her other work it is based on some aspect of Japanese identity.

Tomoko Wawada is a photographer whose work looks at the ritual of “omiai”. This Japanese custom involves women having their photographs professionally taken as part of a pre-arranged marriage process.

These photographs would be distributed to family and relatives in order to find a suitable husband. Sawada appears in each photograph using make-up and costumes to create the different personalities portrayed.

A number of artist continue Japan’s rich heritage found in the ukiyo-e print. In most ases these prints are done by individual artists usually working alone. This is in contrast to the making of ukiuo-e prints that involved an artist, woodblock carver, printer and publisher. A broad range of printmaking techniques are used to explore man and nature. Three such artists are Susumu Endo, Yoshikatsu Tamekane and Katsunori Hamanishi.
Stephen LeWinter

Japan Summer Institute

Summer 2004

Dialogue: Engaging Art

  1. How has the artist used the elements and principles of design?

  2. Is the media appropriate? How else might the artist illustrate what they see?

  3. How has your own culture, history and nationality form your response to the work?

  4. What does the artwork remind you of in general terms?

  5. What do you believe was the artist’s intent?

  6. Do you like or dislike the work and why?


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Winther-Tamaki, Bert, Art in the Encounter of Nations: Japanese and American Artists in the Early Postwar Years, 2001

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