The word “samurai” immediately brings to mind the famed Japanese warrior skilled in the art of war. Samurai were artists as well, and applied their strategy to studies like calligraphy, ink painting, and architecture. Perhaps more importantly, they were patrons of the arts. Their exploits continue to pique the interest of Contemporary artists today. Some of these artists will exhibit in Worcester Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition “Samurai!”, curated by Eric Nakamura, such as Andrew Hem, Audrey Kawasaki, Mari Inukai, James Jean, kozyndan, Mu Pan, Masakatsu Sashie, Rob Sato, and Kent Williams. They each present their interpretations of samurai as cultural icons of history and our fantasies. These include surreal and comical re-imagined battles of samurai, as in Mu Pan’s painting of rōnin (a samurai with no lord or master) fighting Godzilla. There were also female samurai or onna-bugeisha, represented in Kent Williams’ portrait of Mari Inukai and her daughter posed for combat. One of the most fantastic images comes from Sashie Masakatsu, who dresses one of his signature orbs with traditional samurai motifs. All of these draw upon the themes and lasting impression of samurai, in connection to the museum’s collection of original artifacts.
The “Samurai!” group exhibition opens at the Worcester Art Museum on April 18th.
Mu Pan (detail)