"Cats, Owls, and Mountains" have taken over the Tokyo art scene

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Sunday, June 16, 2024

"Cats, Owls, and Mountains" have taken over the Tokyo art scene
Installation view.

TOKYO.- ”Cats, Owls, and Mountains" have taken over the Tokyo art scene with a remarkable exhibition. Artist Zoia Skoropadenko, the creative force behind the showcase, shares insights into the thematic choices that have captured the imaginations of art enthusiasts.

The exhibition is curated by artist Zoia Skoropadenko and features masterpieces by Japanese artist Yokoyama Taikan. This type of exhibition emerges when contemporary artworks are mixed with historical masterpieces from private collections, providing art collectors with the opportunity to combine contemporary art with museum-quality masterpieces on their walls. Skoropadenko has been curating these shows since 2021 around the world. It offers a great opportunity not only to discover contemporary rising stars and established artists but also to uncover hidden gems from private collections.

Skoropadenko reflects on the enduring popularity of cats, owls, and mountains across diverse cultures and historical periods. Through meticulous research, she discovered a universal fascination with these subjects, evident in their ubiquitous presence in museum collections worldwide. From caves like Chauvet, Lascaux, and Altamira where owl paintings were scribbled 30,000 years ago, to the 20th-century extravagance of cat and owl depictions by artists like Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, or Tsuguharu Foujita.

Cats have continued to be a prominent motif in the 21st-century art scene. Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, while not exclusively focused on cats, often incorporates feline motifs into her playful and surrealistic depictions of pumpkins. Similarly, Jeff Koons' "Cat on a Clothesline" and Andy Warhol's collection of drawings titled "25 Cats Named Sam and One Blue Pussy" further exemplify the enduring allure of feline imagery in contemporary art.

Today, two women artists, Ukrainian Zoia Skoropadenko and Japanese Kina Sato, have taken center stage in contemporary art scene with their current exhibition in Tokyo.
The symbolism of cats and owls dates back to prehistoric times, with these creatures revered by ancient civilizations for their enigmatic qualities. In Japan, cats hold a special significance, transcending their roles as mere pets to become objects of cultural reverence.

For Skoropadenko, the allure of cats extends beyond artistic inspiration to personal devotion. Having cared for numerous feline companions, she channels her affection into vibrant portrayals that capture the essence of these beloved animals.

Skoropadenko has had cats since her childhood and has been painting and sketching them since she was 7 years old. Today, she takes care of 16 cats, which she acquired under sad circumstances—cats that were abandoned, thrown out, sick, or wounded. Last year, she adopted 2 abandoned cats from Ukraine to support animals from her homeland.

The current exhibition showcases artworks depicting her favorite pets. Despite having painted and sketched her cats throughout her life, this is the first exhibition introducing her favorite animals to the Japanese public. Most of the art pieces are Japanese ink on paper, paying homage to the traditional sumi-e art technique, as well as oil paintings reflecting her European origins.

Similarly, owls have captivated artists and art enthusiasts for centuries, symbolizing wisdom and protection in various cultural contexts. Skoropadenko's exploration of this motif reveals a rich tapestry of meanings, from the mystical to the mundane.
As for mountains, Skoropadenko acknowledges their timeless appeal as subjects of artistic expression. Whether depicted in traditional Japanese sumi-e ink or European oil paintings, mountains evoke a sense of awe and reverence that transcends cultural boundaries.

The exhibition also pays homage to Yokoyama Taikan, a revered figure in Japanese art history. Taikan's masterful depictions of Mount Fuji exemplify the harmonious balance between simplicity and profound beauty that characterizes the Nihonga style.
Yokoyama Taikan was one of the most prominent Japanese painters of the early 20th century, renowned for his contributions to the Nihonga style, characterized by its use of traditional Japanese artistic techniques and materials. Born in Tokyo, Taikan showed early talent for art and studied under notable painters of his time.

He gained widespread recognition for his bold and dynamic compositions, often depicting majestic landscapes, serene nature scenes, and iconic Japanese motifs such as cherry blossoms and mountains. Taikan's work was deeply influenced by Zen philosophy and spirituality, reflecting a harmonious balance between simplicity and profound beauty.
Throughout his career, Taikan received numerous awards and accolades, cementing his reputation as a master artist. Additionally, he played a significant role in the Japanese art world as a teacher and mentor to younger generations of artists. Today, his artworks are celebrated for their timeless elegance and cultural significance, establishing him as a revered figure in Japanese art history.

"Cats, Owls, and Mountains" provides insight into the ongoing interest in these perennial themes. Skoropadenko's skill and Taikan's works invite visitors to engage in a exploration—an experience that honors the universal power of art and its capacity to surpass time and cultural boundaries.

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