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Is art really interesting? A direct interview with the curator of the Yokohama Museum of Art!

アートって本当に面白いの? 横浜美術館の学芸員に直球インタビュー!

(TOP image) Yusuke Asai 《Tree of Life》 2019 (exhibition view)

Have you ever been to an art museum?
The Yokohama Museum of Art will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. The title of the exhibition, which will be the first of the commemorative projects, is "Yokohama Museum of Art 30th Anniversary Meet the Collection—Art, People, and the Museum." It feels like they are saying "Welcome!" to people who have never been to art museums before. With that in mind, we asked Mr. Shintaro Matsunaga, chief curator of the Yokohama Museum of Art, about how to get along with art that even beginners can enjoy!



Art can be difficult because you don't know how to look at it.

In my subjective opinion, communicating with art is similar to communicating with people. When the other person is a person, there are times when you get used to them just by looking at their looks and facial expressions, and there are people who are taciturn and expressionless and you don't understand until you meet and talk to them many times. Also, even if I don't understand, there are times when I think "He's an interesting person", and there are people who don't get along until the end. It's the same with art.

Since the work expresses the artist's way of thinking and world view, it is natural that there are works that you can easily enter and others that are not. The raison d'etre of art is to recognize the differences in the way of thinking and sense of others, and to feel diversity. I'm here.
For example, the exhibition "100 Years of Monet" held at the museum last year was planned based on this idea. Monet's works, which are very popular in Japan, and contemporary art, which many people are not good at. It was a proposal that by exhibiting the two worlds side by side, there might be a feeling that can be seen in a way that is not based on theory.

I have a naive question. Is art what we need?

There are various ways of thinking, but I believe that “clothing, food, and housing” are not the only things that people need to survive. Don't you think it's very stuffy in a world where standards are set based on logical numbers that give priority to economics, and where you're bound only by things that have answers?
I think art is a breakthrough to be freed from that.

I heard that there are hospitals overseas that give prescriptions to people with mental illnesses to "go to art museums." The role may change with the times, but I believe that museums, as places where people can come into contact with art, are essential to people's lives and the city.

What kind of exhibition is the current “Meet the Collection—Art, People, and Museum”?

I think it's an exhibition that can be enjoyed "as is" without specialized knowledge or preconceptions.
We usually plan and compose based on the thoughts and research of curators, but this time we invited four contemporary artists to “cook” our collection from their respective perspectives. Specifically, we invite you to pick up your favorite works from all the collections of the Yokohama Museum of Art, and create four of the seven exhibition rooms in collaboration with the artist's new and recent works.
The base is the collection of the Yokohama Museum of Art, so as a curator, I have a special affection for each work and artist. However, this time, there was a lot of room left to the artists' senses and judgments, so there were many surprises for us to choose.

* Yusuke Asai 《Tree of Life》 2019 (installation view)

For example, among the works selected by Mr. Yusuke Asai, there were some works that I personally had a "scary" image. I asked him several times, "Does that work fit Asai-san's space?" However, when I actually saw the space in the exhibition room created by Mr. Asai, the expression of the work looked different from what I had seen before. A single piece of art has various phases, and shows completely different expressions depending on the situation and context. I once again felt that, just like humans, art works are not one-sided.

* From Chapter 5 "Connecting Images"

When a curator plans an exhibition that requires a great deal of courage, if an artist proposes it, they say, "Okay, let's do it!" (laughs). There was a difference.

* From Chapter 7 "The Spreading World"

There are cases where masterpieces that everyone is familiar with are displayed in a different atmosphere, and there are also works that have had few opportunities to be exhibited even though they are in the collection. I hope that you will enjoy the various expressions of various works of art from your own perspective.

Meet the Collection — Art, People, and Museums

[Date and Time] Until June 23 (Sun) 10:00-18:00
*Open until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays, last admission 30 minutes before closing.
[Closed] Thursday, May 7 (Tuesday) *Open on May 2 (Thursday, holiday)
[Venue] Yokohama Museum of Art
[Fee] General ¥1,100, University and high school students ¥700, Junior high school students ¥500, Elementary school students and under free, Seniors 65 and older ¥1,000 (Certificate required, available only at the museum ticket office)
*Free admission on June 2nd (Sun)
*Free admission for high school students and younger on Saturdays (student notebook and student ID required)
* Free for those with a disability certificate and caregiver (1 person)
[TEL] 045-221-0300 (Yokohama Museum of Art)

********************

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