I deeply believe that a sense of aesthetics is something that you need to have in your genes. I'm lucky to have a father who’s an artist, and a very pragmatic mom. The rest came with Japan, travels...
When you hear Warhol's name you probably immediately see colourful screen prints showing the contents of an American fridge. And you're right. But I bet you don't know that the young Andy Warhol, influenced by his stay in Japan in 1956 and 1974, showed a completely different artistic face. The Kyocera Museum of Art in Kyoto is hosting an exhibition of Warhol's works, some of which never shown in Japan before, including the artist's unique hand sketches.
Kyoto was the first place Andy Warhol ever visited when he left New York, as part of a two-month tour of Europe and Asia that he went on with his partner. Warhol's art critics say that, as an extremely sensitive person, and as a fan of minimalism (sic!), he must have been very impressed by the colourful Kyoto, which shone like a diamond against the backdrop of Japan recovering from the devastation brought by the Second World War. From his trip to Japan, the artist brought back plenty of kimonos, folding screens, crockery, cutlery, books on ikebana and ... a ceramic dog. He also began to create in a completely new technique and aesthetic.
The most important works that Warhol made under the influence of his contact with Japan was the hand-coloured "Flowers" series from 1974. While Warhol had always used the silkscreen method in his work, the works influenced by his trip to Kyoto were done by hand, taking into account the smallest details of the objects drawn and using gold flakes technique. This is considered by art critics to be an expression of his respect for Kyoto's culture.
The exhibition at Kyocera Museum of Art in Kyoto, which will run until 12 February 2023, features a total of more than 200 works by Andy Warhol, including lesser-known and more obscure screen prints with images of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy.
Complementing the exhibition at the Kyocera Museum of Art in Kyoto is a stand at the Uniqlo Kyoto Kawaramachi Store featuring books and clothes from the limited UT Warhol collection. You can take a selfie with one of Warhol's works in the background and virtually try on clothes from the collection.
And although fast-fashion chains are not my fave, I can't help but mention in passing that Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo, known for its numerous partnerships with the world's largest museums, opened its first shop in Poland on 27 October, in Warsaw's "Domy Towarowe Centrum". Expect simplicity and high quality (although I would read the labels carefully, because you can still find a lot of acrylic, especially in the children's department). The interior of the shop itself does not knock you out, so don't expect any aesthetic ecstasy. Just make sure to have a look at the ceiling, at the large round milk lamps in various sizes.
And once you've done your shopping, be sure to pop into a nearby Japanese restaurant Kiseki by Alon for udon with tempura. It seems that Chmielna Street in Warsaw is turning into a little Japan Town right now.
And while we're on the subject of pop art and Japan, I have yet to introduce you to Japan's Warhol - Tadanori Yokoo, who has a status in his native Japan no worse than that of Andy Warhol in the US. His works appeared on album & book covers and concert posters for bands and artists such as The Beatles, Miles Davis, Santana, Earth, Wind & Fire. You can read more about him here.