Divine Mothers Across Borders of National Identities: Japanese-Indian Artistic Exchanges in Early Twentieth-Century Buddhist Paintings and the Reception of the British Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s Concept of ‚Spirituality’ and ‚Sensitivity’
Responsible for the doctoral project: Dinah Zank, M.A.
Funded by: URPP Asia and Europe
Project duration: September 2011 – August 2014
Doctoral committee: Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen, Art History Institute, Section for East Asian Art/URPP Asia and Europe; Prof. Dr. Angelika Malinar, Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, Indian Studies/URPP Asia and Europe; Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja, Global Art History / Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe in a Global Context, Heidelberg
Research Field: Entangled Histories
Although the title of Dômoto Inshô's painting Kariteimo / Hariti conflated themes of Bengali Hinduism and Japanese Buddhism, it was still chosen to represent modern Japanese paintings at the Japanese Art Institute in 1922. Not only does the painting depict a gendered Indian myth in all its iconographical glory, but it also contains connections to the Japanese theme of 'Kannon with child' and also to the theme of the Virgin Mary as depicted by the British Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This unusual transcultural visuality urges us to reconsider Dômoto's painting as well as works by artists such as Yokoyama Taikan and Arai Kanpô, as a specific new type of pan-Asiatic discourse, that is, as examples of Japanese-Indian artistic dialogues, filtered through the reception of contemporary British artistic traditions.
These Indian connections within modern Japanese paintings can also be
considered to be an imperialist agenda hidden behind a pan-Asianistic surface.
The present research will examine the
transcultural connections between Japan, West Bengal and Great Britain,
and will ask how they occurred through the cultural and political asymmetry of
colonialism in India and despite the resurgent nationalism in all three
countries. In creating such works, Dômoto and others rejected governmental art
institutes and created alternative public spheres in order to explore Japan's
medieval history. The remarkable
movement they created carries paradoxical titles such as 'Transcultural
Nationalism' and 'Restaurative Modernism,' indicating the complexity of their
goals just as the significance of gender in creating modernity.