Japan has had a phenomenal impact on western art. Following the Edo period (1603-1867), when the country was almost completely shut off from the rest of the world, it opened up again, and Japanese art flooded into Europe. These works – namely the ukiyo-e prints – influenced a generation of artists, who mimicked their flattening of space and abstraction of colour in a movement that was later called Japonism.
From Manet, Monet and the other impressionists, to post-impressionists like Van Gogh and Gauguin, and even artists on the other side of the English Channel such as Aubrey Beardsley and the pioneers of the Arts and Crafts movement like William Morris, many of the most celebrated European artists of the 19th and 20th centuries owe Japan a debt of inspiration.
This cultural dialogue continues to this day. In fact, an exciting new exhibition from the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship titled Homo Faber: Living Treasures of Europe and Japan will explore just this, celebrating the best of contemporary European and Japanese craftsmanship.
Set on the San Giorgio Maggiore island of Venice and opening on April 10, this event will bring together over 800 unique objects crafted by over 350 craftspeople – both established and emerging; master artisans and ones in the making, like Paris-based ceramic artist King Houndekpinkou (pictured) – from over 30 countries.
Spanning an incredible 4,000 square feet, the event will include 15 immersive exhibition spaces, each dedicated to a different expression of craftsmanship – from The Ateliers of Wonders, curated by Rinko Kawauchi, which will feature photographs of 12 Japanese craftspeople or “national living treasures, to Eilean, curated by Panerai, a legendary yacht built in 1936 and recently restored by Italian master artisans”.
It also includes Masterful Gestures, curated by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, which will see British and French craftspeople work IRL in front of visitors, in addition to Tracing Venice, curated by De Castelli and Zanellato/Bortotto, which will pay homage to the city of Venice itself via works made from a mosaic of different metals.
At a time when the climate crisis is looming heavily over us, and our relationship with consumption is in question, this event will be underpinned by a philosophy of sustainability, highlighting the importance of craftsmanship today – and of safeguarding them for tomorrow.
Homo Faber: Living Treasures of Europe and Japan is open 10am to 7pm daily from April 10-May 1, 2022. Buy your tickets at homofaber.com