February 26, 2016 – May 8, 2016 (Member Preview February 25)
This exhibition explores the artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos along with its rich history and influence on modern tattoo practices. Perseverance underscores Japanese tattooing as an art form by acknowledging its roots in ukiyo-e prints and examining current practices and offshoots of Japanese tattooing in the U.S. and Japan. As Japanese tattoos have moved into the mainstream, the artistry and legacy of Japanese tattooing remain both enigmatic and misunderstood.
Often copied by practitioners and aficionados in the West without regard to its rich history, symbolism, or tradition, the Japanese tattoo as a form of art is commonly reduced to a visual or exotic caricature. Conversely, mainstream Japanese culture still dismisses the subject itself as underground, associating it more with some of its clientele than with the artists practicing it. Both of these mindsets ignore the vast artistry and rich history of the practice.
Although tattooing is largely seen as an underground activity in Japan, Japanese tattoo artists have pursued their passions, applied their skills, and have risen to become internationally acclaimed artists. Through the endurance and dedication of these tattoo artists, Japanese tattooing as a genre of art has persevered, and is now internationally renowned for its artistry, lineage, historical symbolism, and skill.
Perseverance features the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists, Ryudaibori (formerly Horitaka), Horitomo, Chris Horishiki Brand, Miyazo, Shige, Junii, and Yokohama Horiken, along with tattoo works by selected others. Through the display of a variety of photographs, including life-sized pictures of full body tattoos, these artists cover a broad spectrum of the current world of Japanese tattooing.
Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World is organized by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California, and is supported, in part, by Mariko Gordon and Hugh Cosman. It was curated by Takahiro Kitamura, photographed and designed by Kip Fulbeck. Funded in part by the Henry and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Japan Foundation.