Japanese art cut across many varieties of media and art styles such as sculpture, ink-paper calligraphy and painting on paper and silk, origami,ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings, kirigami as well as contemporary manga which entails contemporary comics and cartoons. The term avant garde is a French word meaning vanguard or advanced guard. Avant garde can be individuals or workings which are radical practical as well as unconventional in relation to culture, society and art. Japanese art has a long history but this essay will major on its significant role in the birth of the famous avant garde.
Avant garde may be typified by artistic advancement, nonconventional and previous intolerability. It can also present an assessment of how the consumer and the producer relate and pushes the border lines on the cultural realm on culturally accepted normative as well as the desired status quo. Avant-garde can also be regarded as the blueprint of modernization, different from post- modernization. Japan, over time, has acquired many new ideologies through their interactions with the Europeans, Americans and other people from different parts of the world who invaded the country. Regardless of the fact Japanese arts are the styles of expressing nature and imaginations through paintings and other designs, the perception of avant-garde is basically the writers, artists, and designers who are concerned with politics and incisive social affairs based on cultural background. The Imari Fukagawa is an example of components of Japanese Art particularly the use of conventional art.
Japanese have also travelled to the outside world, sold out their artistic ideas, and brought other ideas to their motherland. As time passed, they learnt to understand, emulate and lastly to incorporate the new basics of alien culture and by so doing they improved their aesthetic works since these new skills acted as supplements to their art. Europeans and Americans later learned the Japanese arts and hence enhancing the avant garde.
After years of seclusion, merchants on ships from different countries visited Japan , especially in the period of the Kaei era in mid eighteen-eighties. Japan put an end to the prolonged period of nationalized isolation and begun to engage in exchange activities which included printing techniques and photography with the West especially after the Meiji Restoration of 1860s. Consequently, many ceramics as well as ukiyo-e prints from Japan and bronzes, diversity of arts and textiles soon got popularity after reaching Europe and America. This immensely contributed to the birth of avant garde.
Japonism began with a enthusiasm in gathering Japanese art more so ukiyo-e which were later spotted in Paris as the first samples. The publication of black and white copies of ukiyo-e on the Japanese art in the first part of the nineteenth century created a good foundation for the birth of avant garde. Japanese traders really played an important role in spreading the Japanese art to England in the context of Fine Art. The purchase as well as the learning of Japanese art by organizations started as soon as early 1850s. There were dancers, actors, musicians as well as other performing artists in the societies. Such were inclusive of the Kabuki society which was established in 1987, to sustain the high traditional kabuki standards. Modern innovation was thought to have made them irrelevant. Nonetheless, by 1980, the avant garde sculptors as well as painters had steered clear of the groups that had “unattached artists”.
In England, the decorative art as opposed to fine art when supplemented with the Japanese art doctrines called Anglo-Japanese style different from the France Japonism. Painting, which is one of the major elements of avant garde, is the most favored form of Japanese artistic expression in performed by both experts and amateurs. In the nineteenth century, Japanese did their writings by use of brushes as opposed to pens that are now used due to modernization. This expertise in brush techniques resulted to their sensitivity to painting values and aesthetics.
Due to the fact that most Japanese associate sculpture with religion, they considered it to be less sympathetic means for expressing art so as not to demine the sacredness of Buddhism as a tradition. Avant garde is architectural in nature, characteristic of Japanese art which came much earlier. Japanese art had distinctive techniques, aesthetics and customs free from the influence of the outside world since they isolated themselves from the rest for a very long period of time. This made them possess special features in their art, which later were familiar attributes of avant garde.
Explosion of the Japanese art in the 1860s after the isolation made it possible for the outside world borrow their skills which were later applied in the avant garde for instance, the art played a key role in the European and American Impressionist movement. One of the Japanese arts and crafts that had a great significance to the birth of avant garde is shodo. Shodo was an art made with brushes. It was mainly about painting of temples which highly inclined toward the Japanese Buddhism. They appeared as landscape arts.
The concept of “avant-garde” in the nineteenth century is brought out when the works of Cezanne are compared to contemporary Japanese artists. The French impressionists such as Cezanne were influenced by Japanese landscape design (for instance the Ukiyo-e landscapes), they were keen to bring out the differences in views of nature. It is in this backdrop that the article lets us in on Cezanne’s criticism of the techniques of Ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e is another Japanese art that were instrumental in the birth of avant garde. It involved expression of art with blocks of wood. They were mostly used to pass information about familiar topic within the Japanese culture such as politics, history and myths. The other art was Manga which were comic books full of violent, sensual and mocking graphics. The first two figures bellow shows ukiyo-e and manga, respectively.
Japanese architecture, which was mainly expression of art through constructing of historical structures for instance castles , shrines, and temples with wood, as seen in Japanese Architecture above, was also fundamental artistic work characteristic of avant garde. Japanese techniques of building with woods were considerably unique and therefore were later reflected on avant garde after its emergence. One of the famous structures built without using nails but pure wood is the great wooden stage of Kiyomizu-dera. At the renaissance of avant garde, hundreds of wooded buildings and structures were constructed using the Japanese architectural designs.
The ancient Japanese sculptural designs were also used in the beginning of avant garde. It is now applied in most parts of the world, if not all. This is the process or art of shaping objects by clay modeling, carving marble or metal. A product this process is also referred to as sculpture. Statures are forms of sculptural designs. Sculptures can be of prominent people in the society such as religious leaders and heroes for instance the stature of Jesus Christ used by Catholics in churches and the stature of Buddha used by the Buddhists and political leaders such as the stature of Jomo Kenyatta as the founding father of Republic of Kenya.
Similarly, both Bonesky and Izerumi as types of the Japanese art largely contributed to the renaissance of avant garde. Bonesky are small landscapes on the surface of lacquer trays which are usually black in color by which designs are made by use of white sand. It is worth noting that the use of Bonesky came to a halt with the passage of time but later it was used, evident in the avant garde. Izerumi was an art of tattooing which were often used to punish offenders. Though used in some parts of the world, the use of tattoos is still considered to be a taboo.
The above review shows that there are several different forms of art available to the Japanese, they are a reflection of the intense nature of the arts. The governments as well as the people both support the art. in the 1960’s the the Japanese avant garde was inclusive of the notable Gutai set, which was an association of artists that was established by Shozo Shimamoto. The Gutai manifesto was an expression of the fascination with beauty that comes about when elements decay or are damaged. The process of destruction was a revelation of the inner life of a certain object. The Gutai group anticipated a number of genres after the war, such as conceptual art, performance art, wearable art and installation art.
In conclusion, some of the Japanese paintings which are currently used by avant garde include The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. Abe-no-nakamaro which is was about composing poems while viewing the moon. Other paintings were Tomioka Tessai, is a fictitious name for a famous calligrapher and artist, sunrise over the eastern sea by Fujishima Takeji who was a painter specialized in the art of romance and impression in the nineteenth century, female physiognomy which was a compilation of existing beauties . While Japanese arts are the styles of expressing nature and imaginations through paintings and other designs, the perception of avant-garde is basically the writers, artists, and designers who are concerned with politics and incisive social affairs based on cultural background.