Starting November 9, we will be hosting a special exhibit of twelve prints by Seisai (the artist name of Peter MacMillan), from his series Thirty-Six New Views of Mount Fuji. This exhibition will take place in our rare book reading room (access via the 200 level of the stacks), and will be on view through November 30, 2012.
Thirty-Six New Views of Mount Fuji explores the gap between traditional Japanese culture and the careless consumerism of present-day society. Yet while the prints raise consciousness about preserving the world's resources for future generations, at the same time the images are playful and fun, incorporating ideas of asobi (play). The artist uses lithograph printing, offset printing, hand painting, and gold leaf applied by hand in his prints, drawing upon Hokusai's motifs as well as those of other Japanese and Western artists. Another inspiration was his recent translation of a book on Mount Fuji in literature, which piqued his interest in juxtaposing an idealized historical view of Mount Fuji and Japanese culture, with the reality of contemporary society. Seisai composes images of social critique that pose questions related to art history as well as to the possibility of satire in contemporary society.
Peter MacMillan is a poet, print maker, and translator. He is from Ireland and has lived in Japan for more than twenty years. He holds an M.A. from University College Dublin, where he completed a Master’s degree in philosophy and Ph.D. in English literature. He has been a Visiting Fellow or Research Fellow at Princeton University, Columbia University, and Oxford University. He was was awarded the Donald Keene Special Prize for the best translation of a work of classical Japanese literature (Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature) in 2009 for his book One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Translation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, published by Columbia University Press in 2008. He is a Visiting Professor at Kyorin University and also teaches at Tokyo University, and was recently elected to be a UNESCO artist, and exhibited at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris this past month. He is also the founder of the Japan Institute (December 2012), an organization that promotes Japanese culture.
The series will also be on view at the Onishi Gallery at 521 West 26 Street, NY through Wednesday, November 7, 2012.