The mystery and magic of masks from Japan is revealed in a New Orleans Museum of Art exhibit slated to coincide with the annual celebration of the Asian country’s unique culture.
“Traditions Transfigured: The Noh Masks of Bidou Yamaguchi” will open Friday, Oct. 9, during the museum’s regular Friday Nights at NOMA series of programs.
Noh is a centuries-old form of musical theater still performed.
Yamaguchi, a contemporary artists, uses the forms, techniques and the transformative effect of traditional Noh masks to achieve sculptures in a variety of styles, from historically influenced Asian pieces to works based on European masterpieces such as “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci and “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer.
A native of Fukuoka, Japan, Yamaguchi has studied under Gendou Ogawa, a Noh mask carver living treasure. Initially tutored in the art of reproducing the historic masks, he has adapted the principles to a diverse selection of subjects over the past decade. He has lectured internationally on his work and the art form, and has his pieces included in several museums around the world.
For the exhibit, the masks will be accompanied by woodblock prints by master print designer Tsukioka Kogyo, a selection of Noh robs and a video of a Noh performance to introduce the dramatic style and overall context for Yamaguchi’s work.
Yamaguchi and guest curator Kendall Brown will lead a discussion on the work and the exhibit at the Friday event at 6:30 p.m. The Noh Society of Kentucky will perform at 6 p.m.
The artist also will create a new work for the City Park museum, using the city’s and the museum’s intertwined history with costuming and masking.
The Japan Festival, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the museum, explores Japanese culture through music, food, dancing, fashion, art tours, garden tours, martial arts demonstrations and more. The fest is organized by the museum, the Consulate General of Japan in Nashville and the Japan Club in New Orleans.
Admission for the festival is $5, free for museum members.