September 30, 2016

‘Transforming the Kimono: the Art of Itchiku Kubota’ exhibition completes its tour of Asia and Europe

The collection of kimonos by Japanese artist Itchiku Kubota has completed its European and Asian tour and returned to its homeland. The exhibition organisers have now been able to look at the results and assess the performance of the exhibitions over the last few years.

The Imperial Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (MoMu) was the final stop in the collection’s 2016 international tour. The museum displayed six kimonos from the “Symphony of Light“ series and two from the “Mount Fuji” series. Art critics hailed the exhibition a phenomenal success.

The tour started in 2011 and for the first two years travelled through Japan. It then went abroad, initially to Astana and Almaty in Kazakhstan and then to Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia. Since 2015 these magnificent works of art have been exhibited in Leiden (Holland), Paris and Nice (France) and Antwerp (Belgium). During its tour of Europe and Asia the collection caused a sensation and not only amongst experts and lovers of Japanese culture. The kimono robes, works of art which speak eloquently of the beauty of Japan, were received with great interest and enthusiasm in every city. During the tour, over 500,000 people visited the exhibition.

The kimono collection has now returned to its homeland of Japan, where it will be on display in the Itchiku Kubota art museum until 2018. The collection is hailed as a triumph of craftsmanship. In his work, Itchiku Kubota has recreated the unique ancient 16th-century skill known as Tsujigahana, which combines dying, decorating and embroidery. The fibres seen to flow into each other, creating an inimitable Japanese landscape. In August 2016, the exhibition was visited by Slava Polunin and his “Snow Show” team, who recorded his impressions of what he saw: “It is difficult to put in words the manner in which artist and researcher Itchiku Kubota has transformed this traditional Japanese costume. So strong are the emotions produced by these brightly coloured and carefully embroidered pieces of silk that we are left in a state of awe and bewilderment. We paid a visit to the museum of kimonos, but in reality we entered into a world of fantasy, created by a great artist and poet.”

Itchiku Kubota died in 2003. Following his death the Kubota museum ran into financial difficulties. However, thanks to the passion of the famous businessman and philanthropist Patokh Chodiev, the legacy and dream of the great Japanese artist continues and his remarkable creations have been enjoyed by people all over the world.

“Even though the Itchiku Kubota Museum kimono collection has passed into private ownership, it still remains a national treasure in Japan. But we have taken on the responsibility to keep the collection together and safe and show it to the whole world”, explains Olga Monakhova, Director of the International Chodiev Foundation.

A grand tour is planned for the kimono collection in 2018, taking it to North America and Canada.

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