SYDNEY.- Japan in the early 20th century was a place of great change. The essential question of the day was: how could one be both Japanese and modern at the same time when modernity was defined as Western?
Nowhere was this more evident that in the arts, particularly in the image of women. On one hand, there was the liberated, self-confident, fun-loving modern girl, who dressed in Western fashion and decorated her home in Western style; on the other, the good wife and wise mother, who epitomised traditional Japanese femininity.
The balance between modernity and nostalgia the clash and the embrace is captured in this exhibition of paintings, prints, textiles and decorative arts from the period, ranging from prints of cooly sophisticated young women to bold kimonos with abstract patterns that reinterpreted traditional motifs and sleek glassware that represented the latest in art deco chic.