Dear Shaded Viewers,
What do a beloved 1980s manga series “Asakiyume mishi” and an exquisite 18th-century lacquer box once owned by Marie-Antoinette share in common? At first glance, not much. However, both draw inspiration from “The Tale of Genji,” a cornerstone of classical Japanese literature penned by a woman in the 11th century whose influence has remained unshaken across Asia to this day.
For a millennium, this pioneering narrative, often heralded as history’s first psychological novel with its cast of archetypal characters – the wronged wife, the jealous husband, the unrepentant seducer – has enriched a vast iconography. This is evidenced by the countless art pieces and treasured objects it has inspired. A journey through time reveals itself particularly in a monumental piece by master weaver Itarô Yamaguchi, with his four extraordinary scrolls exhibited together and unfurled in their entirety for the first time.
The exhibition delves into the legacy of this masterwork, offering a sharp and thorough critique of the decadent customs of the Heian court. Behind the veil of seeming frivolity, the narrative profoundly explores universal emotions like love, greed, and desire, connecting the past with the present in a timeless exploration of the human condition.
1000 years of Japanese imagination. Hommage to Maitre Itaro Yamaguchi at the Guimet Museum till March 25th.
The National Musuem of Asian Art – Guimet
6, Place d’Iena 75116 Paris