Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Yoshizawa Exhibition

I have the honor of announcing, on behalf of the SiboldHuis JapanMusem, that an exhibition of origami art by Akira Yoshizawa will be held in Leiden, the Netherlands, from April 30 to May 29, 2011.

Titled “Animal Parade. Origami by Akira Yoshizawa”, the focus will be on animals—as they have that special quality of 'liveliness' that the 'Father of Modern Origami' was noted for. There will be over 200 sculptures in various postures and groupings, from periods spanning the Master's career. These "range from gorillas and seahorses to a dinosaur and a horse of exceptional height", as per the exhibition website which is now up.

Lectures and hands-on workshops by origami luminaries (as well as by Yours Truly) are scheduled for the weekend of May 7-8.

This will be the largest-scale showing of Akira Yoshizawa's pioneering work in any setting outside of Japan, since the 1950s. The last such museum exhibit at this scale in the West was also the first one: the exhibition in Amsterdam's Stedelijt Museum in 1955.

This proximity (the museums are a few dozen kilometers from each other) is no accident.

In January, I had the good fortune to meet with Kris Schiermeier, Director of the SieboldHouse, who was visiting Haifa here in Israel, and was much impressed. I had gone to Haifa, actually, to meet Jaron Borensztajn, to try and gather some historical information about his grandfather, Felix Tikotin, the Japanese-art dealer who arranged the first Yoshizawa exhibition in Amsterdam 1955. But there I learnt that he and Kris were plotting with Mrs. Yoshizawa a second, historically-symbolic exhibition in Holland, scheduled for April. And now it will be taking place!

There is more to this story that I am not at liberty to reveal yet.

This is a very rare opportunity for anyone in the West--or anywhere for that matter--to see Master Yoshizawa's work in person. I can't convey how deeply moved I was the first time, a few years ago, that I held in my hands some of his works, models I'd known as a boy only from photographs in the Harbin books of the 1970s. Now a direct view will be available to anyone.

My only complaint is that the show will be up only one month.

More news will be posted here about what promises to be fantastic exhibition, as soon as it becomes available.


>> Added 2012: I have been remiss in writing about this exhibit and it is weighing on me. Meanwhile have a look at some of these photos from the show, taken by both Paula Versnick and myself.

2013:  I did end up writing a few words about Yoshizawa's influence, at least on me. See: