Tokyo-Paris a long lasting love and a year of celebrations!

Pianist Gen Tomuro at France Amérique

When Richard Flahaut introduced pianist Gen Tomuro in the salons of France Amérique, he talked about the great understanding of music that the Japanese and the French share. And this young man who studied with Philippe Entremont and is finishing a masters in London, is proof of it. His program of Granados, Schumann, Poulenc and Stravinsky was absolutely delightful and his fingering fascinating to watch from close up. He will be playing in Japan in January but should be back to celebrate the Year of Japan in Paris, starting next July, which commemorates 150 years of French Japanese diplomatic relations.

Tadashi Kawamata’s installation “Nest” for the Kamel Mennour gallery

At the same time, Kamel Mennour is exhibiting the fabulous “Nest” by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata, who used a hundred thousand chopsticks separated in half to create a series of works, large and small, inside the gallery and on the façade, with fifteen of his students from Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. It took them two weeks to install it and it is spectacular! (until January 27, at 47 rue Saint André des Arts)

Tadashi Kawamata was born in Hokkaido and now lives in Paris

At Maison du Japon, a show “A l’aube du Japonisme” (at dawn of Japonism) celebrating the twenty years of its presence in Paris, uncovers extraordinary photographies by Jacques Philippe Potteau, of the translators, hairdressers, military or diplomatic personnel of the Japanese Embassy in 1864. There are also many paintings and XIX th century models of houses  and lacquer wood boxes with mother of pearl decors collected by Baron de Chassiron, when he lived in Japan in 1858. The building of the Cultural center, designed by Kenneth Armstrong and Masayuki Yamanaka, is in itself a jewel.

Jacques Philippe Potteau, portrait of Okkotsu Wataru, 17, hairdresser of the officers at the Embassy in Paris, 1864

The Japanese Embassy was established in Paris in 1858 at the height of the Third Empire. This collection kept at Musée du Quai Branly is a perfect image of the times, with a slight europeanisation of each costume like the bow tie on this picture.

Attr. to Hokusai, “Digging of a well”, 1823-1826, Ink and color on Japanese paper, BNF

Strangely enough, there are links between this Hokusai watercolor and Tadashi Kawamata’s constructions… The passion that unites the French and the Japanese can be seen in the numerous tea houses in Paris or restaurants on rue Sainte Anne which was nicknamed many decades ago “Tokyo sur Seine”.

Kyoto artist Kohei Nawa, Force, 2015, oil and silicon drip

As I already mentioned, 2018 is the year of French Japanese celebrations and Musée Pompidou Metz, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and French architect Jean de Gastines, has anticipated this major event with multiple exhibitions. Japan-Ness, features Architecture and urbanism in Japan since 1945.

Tadashi Kawamata’s Tree Hut in Pompidou, 2012, a gift to the museum by Friends of Musée d’Art Moderne

It shows the diverse facets of creativity provoked by the Hiroshima bomb and too many tsunamis and earthquakes. There are drawings and models but also hundreds of photographs by genius architects such as Kenzo Tange, Junzo Sakakura, Arata Isozaki or Tadao Ando… who are all famous in France for their buildings. Unfortunately the exhibit is ending on January 8th, but a very complete catalog can be bought.

Haruka Kojin, Reflectwo, 2006-2017, Installation with artificial flowers. The artist was burnin 1983 in Hiroshima

The other show is Japanorama, a new look at contemporary creativity. This was slightly disappointing but the last room on the second floor is worth the trip in itself with Haruka Kojin‘s flower petal installation, Kohei Nawa‘s “Force 2015”, a vertical fountain of black oil and silicon, and Lee Ufan‘s “Relatum”.

The building is a work of art and lunch at La Voile Blanche is very cosy. Metz is 85 mins from Paris on the TGV and seeing all the German and Luxemburg tourists rush to the site is a warming image!

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3 Comments on “Tokyo-Paris a long lasting love and a year of celebrations!”

  1. Brigid Williams

    What a thrilling collection of ideas and exhibits. My fingers are crossed that Japan-ness will travel this way from Pompidou Metz!
    Happy New Year to you and the magical Paris Diary by Laure!!

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