The Fine Art Society is proud to present the latest in a series of homages to the arts of Japan: a series stretching back to the 1880s, as you will read in Rupert Faulkner’s fascinating and informative introduction. The most recent in this series was in 1992 with Opening the Window: British Artists in Meiji Japan, with an introduction by the former British Ambassador to Japan and Chairman of the Japan Society, Sir Hugh Cortazzi. This is also the latest exhibition in partnership with Michael, and now Mariko, Whiteway; a series of co-operative ventures that commenced in 1972 with the appropriately titled The Aesthetic Movement and the Cult of Japan – an exhibition that charted the influence of Japan on British arts and architecture in the 1860s and 1870s. We are also delighted to have the support of the Embassy of Japan with this venture, and it is our first exhibition under the excellent umbrella of Asian Art in London. And it is a remarkable coincidence that 2013 happens to be the 400th anniversary of the first official contact between our two nations; as the British Association for Japanese Studies so ably recounts: in September 1613, King James I gave the Shogun a precious goblet. He gave his father, the all-powerful former Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, a telescope – the first ever known outside Europe. The items, with letters of friendship, were conveyed by the newly formed East India Company. The Japanese responded with two suits of armour, ten sumptuous paintings and permission for the British to reside and trade in Japan for ever. It could be said that we are the beneficiaries of this friendship; but without all her infectious enthusiasm, and the hard work of Mariko Whiteway, this exhibition might have been still-born. So we are delighted that these four wonderful artists, great men in their own land, are allowing us to exhibit their work nearly 6000 miles from home.
Four Living National Treasures of Japan: Jun Isezaki, Kunihiko Moriguchi, Kazumi Murose, Noboru Fujinuma