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Rozome Masters of Japan

Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA – through Jun 18, 2006

Midori Abe

Midori Abe, Transformation Over Time XI (2002), 2 panels [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, through Jun 18]

The Japanese art of rozome dates back to the 17th century but was nearly lost until its revitalization at the turn of the 20th century. Rozome, a method of painting with wax resist and dyes – mainly on silk – is similar to the Indonesian batik technique more commonly known to westerners. As a contemporary medium, rozome has had little exposure in the west. Curated by textile historian Betsy Sterling Benjamin, this rare exhibit features the work of fifteen leading Japanese artists.

Yusuke Tange

Yusuke Tange, Angels Trumpet (2000), panel [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellvue WA, through Jun 18]

Contemporary rozome techniques allow an individual to work alone rather than in the traditional workshop system of Japan that had previously dominated surface design. In Japan, rozome artists are considered “painters” of textiles. They prefer this medium for the rich hues achieved by dye saturation and for the controlled method of brushing on layers of wax and dye, sometimes up to twenty times to achieve the spectrum of shading, tonality and detail.

While some works in this exhibit, like the elegant kimonos and folding screens, are done in a traditional Japanese style, the majority of the pieces are stretched and presented as individual works of fine art. Traditional Japanese subjects, like the misty landscapes of Katsuji Yamade or lotus ponds by Yusuke Tange, are juxtaposed with modern works by artists such as Mitsuo Takaya, who creates an introspective narrative in The Quest for Memory. Takaya’s dreamlike approach is also notable in Kageo Miura’s elusive composition Poem of the Root Vegetables, where abstract architectural planes anchor floating botanical forms. The surreal landscape is further embellished with fabric collage and opaque acrylic paint.


Allyn Cantor

Kenijin Ihaya

Kenijin Ihaya, Night at the Pond (2003), 3 folding screens [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, through Jun 18]

 Wed, Apr 5, 2006