The Starting Point
so that which is called ‘art’… creating emotion in great and humble alike, may be the starting point of an increase in longevity and happiness…
zeami 14th century
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Many times over the last twelve to fifteen months, I have empathized with Eddy Murphy’s young donkey. The destination seemed elusive, always further away. Older, and supposedly wiser, than Shrek’s companion, I had forgotten about the importance of the journey, of the truism that an ending is another beginning, and a beginning another ending. So while it is obvious that we are at the starting point of a new gallery, the journey, past and future had to be considered.
At the commencement of a new phase in our gallery life and the commencement of a promising Year of the Rabbit in the Oriental zodiac cycle, it seemed appropriate to acknowledge our beginnings. Thus the opening show returns to our roots in historical works of art. In 1983, in humble surrounds, no capital and no clients, this business committed to a specialization in Japanese works of art.
Along the way, the philosophy of Lesley Kehoe Galleries’ approach to art was refined and distilled and is beautifully expressed in the opening quotation from fourteenth century playwright Zeami: Art makes a huge contribution to our quality of life; its appeal is universal; it arouses passion – it is a starting point rather than a destination or an end in itself. It is the meeting place for sharing appreciation, swapping stories and bearing witness.
This exhibition is about the metaphors of the journey: The starting point at the physical appreciation of the works themselves; the scenic stops along the way at unexpected turns; the moments of enlightenment; the hints of other journeys and other stops along the way.
It starts with Buddhist sculpture as the introduction of Buddhism to Japan had a huge influence on the development of the arts. It touches on painting in both folding screen and hanging scroll format, fires along with examples of rare ceramics from the early 17th century to the innovative Meiji period, and indulges itself in a full exploration of the unique Japanese art of makie, the sprinkled pictures of Japanese lacquer.
The early works reflect a world of subtle metaphor, romance, allusion and the rule of connoisseurship. Layers of meaning are revealed if one knows the coded references. Later works reveal sublime craftsmanship and artistry: Rare museum quality works, works of significant provenance, works by Living National Treasure artists, works by living artists created especially for this opening…
This is most certainly another starting point – of a journey with no specific destination but a series of exciting stops en route planned. Here we start where we began, we’ll continue with where we’ve been recently in contemporary works, then venture forth to where we’ve never been before.
It is a lonely journey without companions, and this exhibition pays tribute to the many co-travellers who have provided shelter and sustenance on the way, enhanced and continue to enhance the experience. You are, of course, invited to join us.