Within the scope of the international summer exhibition Korakuen Garden Okayama Japan – through Yukio Namba’s eyes, the Museum van Bommel van Dam will be exhibiting under the banner From the Collection about twenty works of art from the municipality of Venlo’s Japonica collection. The works of art almost all depict the subject of nature. In addition to beautifully stylised landscapes, there are magnificent close-ups of animals, balanced displays of flowers and several classical portraits.
During the nineteen fifties and sixties, Maarten and Reina van Bommel van Dam collected, in line with the spirit of the times, about fifty Japanese woodcuts, pen and ink drawings and scrolls. The Japonica collection is part of the major gift made in 1969 that was definitively transferred to the municipality of Venlo in 1971. The most beautiful, art historically fascinating pieces from this high-quality sub-collection are formed by the two timeless woodcuts by Hokusai Katsushika, who depicted the Sacred Mount Fuji in a highly personal manner. Hokusai cut in wood a sober mountain landscape in which he rhythmically evokes many trees at the foot of the mountain and he subtly swathes the cone of the mountain in snow. He suggests depth and volume through placing long stretched out clouds to the right and left of the mountain. An absolute masterpiece that has been on loan to many other museums over the last few years.
Japanese art is devoid of classical perspective, in which there is a single vanishing point. This different approach to depiction is clearly visible in the pen and ink drawing of plants and animals that are isolated in an otherwise completely empty space. All these 18th and 19th-century images had a great influence on Western artists like Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh and Toulouse Lautrec. They drew great inspiration from the Japanese artists’ approach, which they considered to be pioneering: they realised that abstraction and simplification invested the composition with positive tension.