On Other Surfaces│5│

Table of Contents

Japanese art history considers a “history of reception” based on “reception” of foreign cultures as an authentic method for describing the trajectory and characteristics of Japanese culture. This reception-biased sense of history positions Japan at the far reaches of the world and isolates it, giving rise to the concept of Japan as a peripheral island, or as a place at the edge of the “Three Kingdoms.” At the same time, however, this history also gives rise to a unique nationalism that attempts to invert this viewpoint, bound in the idea of Japan as a “land of the gods.” This frequently devolves into myopic glorification of Japan in the form of a masochistic view of history.
In this essay, Kurose introduces a new viewpoint of “dissemination,” juxtaposed against the biased view of Japanese art history as merely a “history of reception” — that is, an art history of “receiving.” To test this history of “dissemination,” he takes up the case of three artists: Takashi Murakami, Ikuo Hirayama, and Tenshin Okakura.
With his “Superflat” trilogy, Murakami succeeded in “disseminating” his art to the West, but has yet to succeed in “disseminating” to Asia. Hirayama did not leave behind works like those of Murakami, nor did he leave behind excellent work at the discursive level, but he was a painter strongly aware of the Buddhist connections to East Asia. Finally, Okakura, as a thinker of Meiji-era Japan, not only “disseminated” his theory of art to India, but was also a rare example of someone who strongly influenced Indian religious figures and artists.
From the work of these three artists, Kurose clarifies the cyclical structure of “reception” and “dissemination” in Japanese art history.