Between Kyoto and Varese there is an old love

The Baratelli and Ponti collections from the Varese Library and the Japanese art publisher Uns? D? bring to the castle Masnago a cultural, entrepreneurial and craft understanding that has deep roots in the history of the Garden City. From Meiji illustrated books to designs that pass through volumes rich in decorative motifs and models for Kimono

From Varese museum for Villa Mirabellowith the same ticket we can access Masnago Museum, in the old castle, which belonged to the noble Castiglioni and Martignoni families. And vice versa, for those who want to travel the other way around. The exhibition space for the interesting permanent collection of works of art from the city of Varese, it is also a proactive center for original exhibitions. Until September, it will be possible to visit the refined exhibition JAPAN Drawing and design. From Meiji Illustrated Books to Contemporary Art Posters “. Even this important event, curated by the scholars Rossella Menegazzo and Eleonora Lanza, who expanded into the Land of the Rising Sun and established a unique cultural entity, starts with treasures stored in our city. And precisely from the Citizens’ Library and its precious funds. We are talking about old Japanese illustration books, partly from the Baratelli Foundation, partly donated at the time by the Ponti family of textile entrepreneurs. The same ones that after the Litta preserved and protected the history of Isolino Virginia. Sensitive to Japanese culture, known for its ancient silk tradition and its artistic sophistication by its designers and textile printers, the bridges were directly interested in creating and maintaining contacts that were useful to their entrepreneurial activity. From these volumes and from the studies of the two researchers began the idea of ​​the exhibition, also enriched by the presence of similar Japanese works coming from the Braidense Library.

An exhibition, this one, was intended to “leave traces in the collective imagination,” according to Varese Mayor Davide Galimberti. Especially because it allows us to discover that Japan, Kyoto in particular and Varese were close over a century ago thanks to the close trade that took place on the Silk Road. Varese is a cosmopolitan city thanks to its industry, its craft, commercial, creative and artistic ability, and this review shows how our international calling has deep roots. For those who want to know, there are six sections to visit. The itinerary opens with a documentary (approximately twenty minutes of projection) illustrating the Japanese woodcut technique (print on wood) and the art publisher Uns? D? of Kyoto, an old company founded in 1891, which has a valuable legacy of original wooden matrices from many of the exhibited works. It is the only one that still continues this technique today, alongside the production of manually printed and hardcover books, as can be seen in the film, according to Japanese tradition.

The first of the five sections of the itinerary proposes polychrome volumes from the Edo period, rich in decorative motifs, from which paper models were copied for application to fabrics and artifacts. With these, the craftsmen and traders therefore sought inspiration, but also concrete material to create their works of the highest quality. The second section (specifically dedicated to subjects of flowers and birds) offers books in black ink and just a few touches of color, as is the tradition of part of Japanese painting. These designs are found on scrolls, screens, sliding doors, elements that demonstrate over time the refined decorative disposition of the rooms.

Third paragraph suggests instead patterns for Kimono fabrics and Moori jacketsbut also for fans, round or foldable or for vases and various artifacts. The variation and refinement of the drawn motifs and the linearity of the line, which refers to an essential and pure art, even in the richness and precision of the details, are striking also in this space of the itinerary. The descriptive cleanliness that characterizes each exhibited work has been well replicated in the clarity of the pleasant and minimalist surroundings of Massimo Negri (Diennepierre Architetti Associati). The fourth section “Real places and imaginary places” is interesting with a large map of Japan from 1874 and the new provinces of the archipelago (foldable in volume and belongs to the Baratelli collection), but also suggestions for different images and prints of time, with well-known landscapes like Mount Fuji. Finally, the fifth section leads to the present, to the great Japanese protagonists of the present design and their posters. Confirms a pathway that has ancient roots but is still nourished by a lymph nourished by art, history and current events.

Some posters were specially created by artist Matsunaga Shin for the inauguration of the Varese exhibition. They symbolically represent the changing phases of life, consisting of ups and downs, through the fallen leaves of the typical Varese vegetation. Precious gift and reminder of a cultured and kind understanding that we are sure will continue over time. A happy example of how art is a bridge to cooperation and peace, aimed at overcoming obstacles and unexpected events in everyday life. And to lift the spirits: in the name of beauty.

JAPAN Drawing and design
From Meiji illustrated books to contemporary art posters
Civic Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Via Monguelfo, Varese
Until September 11, 2022
From Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 to 12.30 and from 14.00 to 18.00

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