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Asian Art Calendar of Events

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Exhibition Public - USA & Canada

Animals in Japanese Art

The Honolulu Museum of Art
900 South Beretania Street,
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Mar 30, 2023 To Jul 23, 2023

Detail: Animals in art are rarely just animals. They are often rich in cultural associations that reveal as much about human society as the natural world. From Aesop’s fables to contemporary cartoons, depictions of animals have provided us with a means to step outside ourselves and take a fresh look at the things we normally take for granted.

Japanese art is rich in animal imagery—humorous badgers, mysterious foxes, divine horses, and fearsome lion-dogs animate a variety of treasures in HoMA’s superb collection. An exhibition highlight is the museum’s early copy of the celebrated set of handscroll paintings Frolicking Animals, which was recently loaned to the Tokyo National Museum, where it hung alongside the original twelfth century paintings that inspired it. Frolicking Animals depicts various beasts mimicking humans as they play games, dance, make music, and perform religious ceremonies. Another exquisitely painted and rarely displayed work entitled Stable is a six-panel screen from the Momoyama period depicting horses.

Hanging scrolls, votive panels, and handscrolls explore stories and meanings behind these animals, offering novel—and sometimes humorous—perspectives on human concerns.

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