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A rare opportunity to discover traditional Japanese painting technique


Duff House, one of the most important Georgian mansions in the North of Scotland and a masterpiece by William Adam from the 18th Century, is currently having a rather unusual yet unique art installation in its 4th floor Long Gallery.

Duff House

Exterior installation view of the exhibition. © Andy Martin Photography

The site-specific installation with Ajiro checkerboard pattern consisting of silver leaf and Urushi lacquered Japanese Washi paper is unfolding over the 72 window panes. This is attempted by a leading Japanese minimalist artist, Atsuo Hukuda (1958-).

© Andy Martin Photography

Interior installation view of the exhibition. © Andy Martin Photography

Hukuda, although originally trained as a sculptor, has been employing traditional Japanese painting techniques and materials such as gold leaf, silver leaf and Japanese Urushi lacquer. The minimal body of work, visualised strictly according to Hukuda’s concept ‘Dry / Light / Clear / Sharp’, consciously emerged along the lines of Rin-pa. Rin-pa is one of the major historical schools of Japanese painting initiated in 17th Century Kyoto and significantly developed in the 18th Century  – the same period as when Duff House was built – notably by Korin Ogata (1658-1716).

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© Andy Martin Photography

SUKI-MONO: Ways Since Rin-pa is an exhibition series that has been curated by Hukuda since 1991 under the aim of discovering today’s interpretations towards Rin-pa style within contemporary art. The series has traveled widely, including to a Japanese historical building by the name of Rinko-Kaku Pavilion in Gunma. This exhibition is therefore envisioned as an extension of the project by taking it to the UK and Scotland for the first time, and to a Western building of historical and cultural significance. (SUKI MONO means a refined or well-cultivated person, someone who lives for the delight and elegance of art).

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© Andy Martin Photography

This could be a rather ‘modest’ installation and you may find yourself wondering what element of the work to focus on in the Gallery. The main target of Hukuda for this installation was ‘to emphasise the nature and character of the architectural and design features of Duff House by interfering in it as little as possible’. Also to celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design in Scotland, what Hukuda achieved in this exhibition is his direct artistic response, but also his suggestion for a possible form of harmonious co-existence between art and the architectural environment.

You can see the exhibition at Duff House until the 23rd of October.


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