HALF AND HALF. Masakazu Miyanaga

10 - 30 November 2023

Opening: 09.11.2023, 18.00

It has been a quarter of a century since I came to Poland in 1995, after graduating from the University of Tsukuba. I was 25 years old then. I was sent to Poland by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and worked as a volunteer at the Myślenice Cultural Centre. Subsequently, I was an intern student at the Faculty of Conservation, Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. I had more and more acquaintances and friends around me and became accustomed to living in Kraków. I ate Polish food, drank Polish water, breathed Polish air, and spoke Polish. And this is how another 25 years passed: I’m turning 50 this year. I came to Poland at the age of 25, so my life in Japan and in Poland is now ‘half-and-half’.

My works are painted in tempera on wood and gilt with gold leaf, a classic European technique. I’ve been using European gold leaf but my interest in gold stems from the works of the Japanese Rinpa school, represented by such artists as Sōtatsu Tawaraya, Kōrin Ogata, and Hōitsu Sakai. While using traditional Western techniques, I sought to create something Oriental, something Japanese, something that is in my blood. This is why Poland (West) and Japan (East) are both present in my work on a half-and-half basis.

When I was a student back in Japan, I was interested in contemporary art, and my works were influenced by contemporary artists, both Japanese and foreign. But at the same time, I was fascinated by works of the Rinpa school, ukiyo-e and yamato-e, and those images were always present in my head. In European painting, as time went by, I gradually became interested in the Italian and Dutch Renaissance, and also medieval Christian icons. Nowadays, various media and techniques mingle and permeate one another. In the world of today, with digitalization progressing, and where the presence of all things is being watered down, I want to take time to look closely at what was made carefully in times gone by by artists who had a tremendous grasp of technique and skill. In my works, the proportions of living in the present and looking back into the past are half-and-half.

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