The Impact of Mexico – Mexican Experiences Shake Japan Radically
Chemical reactions between Japanese artists and Mexico,
where the art of revolution is engraved, and life and death, ancient and modern,
real and surreal are mixed
This year, 500 years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico and 200 years after it achieved independence, the Ichihara Lakeside Museum is pleased to present The Impact of Mexico—Mexican Experiences Shake Japan Radically.
Chiba Prefecture, where our museum is located, is known as the place where exchanges between Japan and Mexico began. In 1609, the sailing ship San Francisco, which had departed from the Philippines for Mexico, was wrecked off Onjuku, on the Pacific coast of Chiba, and more than 300 people were rescued by local residents. The lord of Otaki Castle, Tadatomo Honda, carefully protected them, and Ieyasu Tokugawa then helped them return to Mexico safely.
Exploring the history of exchanges between Japan and Mexico, this exhibition focuses on artists who were or have been shocked by Mexico—its history, climate, people, and art—and addressed it in their own work. It is an attempt to reveal what attracts them to Mexico and to illuminate their experiences of Mexico from various perspectives.
The featured artists include Tamiji Kitagawa, who moved to Mexico immediately after the revolution, was moved by the Mural Movement for the art of the people, and lived as a rebellious painter after returning to Japan; Kojin Toneyama and On Kawara, who were shocked by the Great Mexican Art Exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum in 1955 and sought for new mode of expression after staying in Mexico; Taro Okamoto, who discovered “Mexico” in himself and painted a huge mural, Myth of Tomorrow; Yukio Fukazawa, a leading figure in postwar copperplate prints, who changed his style after visiting Mexico, where he was invited to teach printmaking; Shigeru Mizuki, who had a huge collection of Mexican masks and saw the world where the Mexican people live with ghosts; Koji Suzuki, a picture book artist who is fascinated by the festival of "Day of the Dead" and continues to draw magical pictures with intense colors; Kaori Oda, who filmed a mysterious journey around the Mayan cave fountain, which is believed to connect this world with the nether world, in the movie Cenote.
Today, the world is being torn apart by a desire for exclusivity and for solidarity, while the COVID-19 pandemic makes us question how life and death should be and the foundations of our civilization itself. In these unsettling times, the "Mexico" that these artists resonate with will give us many suggestions.
Tamiji Kitagawa, Taro Okamoto, Kojin Toneyama, Yukio Fukazawa, On Kawara, Shiberu Mizuki, Koji Suzuki, Kaori Oda