In 1983, in humble surrounds, little stock and less clientele, this business bravely committed to a specialization in Japanese works of art: Brave because Australia was an Anglophile culture, with residual anti-Japanese sentiment from WWII, and a universal love of Victorian and Georgian brown furniture. It was a time of love for the old, the antique. Lesley Kehoe Galleries was established with a specialty in historical works of art – particularly Japanese lacquer. With now over 25 years experience in works of art from the Edo and Meiji periods, earlier and later, Lesley Kehoe Galleries maintains an international reputation in historical works of art.
In that experience, the philosophy of Lesley Kehoe Galleries’ approach to art was refined and distilled and is beautifully expressed in a 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.
The physical object is the Alice in Wonderland moment of the door opening to another world. In the case of Japanese works of art, this is an exotic world of a different language; different customs and traditions; different physical manifestations of the creative impulse; different representations of human experience. Early works of Japanese art 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.
Historical works of art continue to be an important part of what Lesley Kehoe Galleries is about. Our experience with them has honed our appreciation and enabled us to appreciate more fully contemporary trends. We learn valuable lessons from the past. Our appreciation and guardianship of objects from the past mentors future generations of collectors and artists.