TEL: 03-3334-7918
FAX: 03-3334-7919

"Ancient Cities of Belgium by Wandering Artists "
Prologue to the "Ancient Cities of Belgium by Wandering Artists"
Hisashi Owada
Judge of International Court of Justice, and Honorary President of Japan
Association for the Promotion of Art and Culture
  The Japan Association for the Promotion of Art and Culture (JAPA) was established in 1981 with the objectives to promote far and wide interaction in fine arts, to foster creative activities founded on the traditions of Japanese culture, as well as to exchange works of art with other foreign countries that will contribute to the improvement and development of the culture of fine arts in Japan. Since then, we have been promoting projects with an emphasis on contributing to the promotion of the culture of fine arts in Japan especially through interactions with overseas cultural art.
  With this aim in mind, this association has been carrying out various activities. We established the JAPA Award to recognize artists who have exhibited outstanding original works of art in Japanese and Western paintings. The Commemorative Award of Saburo Miyamoto, awarded to artists with remarkable achievements in calligraphy, both have the same objective as the JAPA award. Regarding international exchange in the culture of fine arts, we have held Japanese cultural art lectures at major overseas universities (Harvard University in the United States from 1982 to 1990, and Leiden University in the Netherlands from 2005) and have sent artists and art historians as lectures. We also sponsored the international Print Exhibition in 2002, and have contributed Japanese works of art to art museums and museums in other countries.
  As part of our international exchange project, we planned an "Overseas Sketching Project by Japanese Artists" in 2003. We believed that it would be significant to give well known Japanese artists methods to find a new stimulus and creativity by coming into contact with contrasting cultures. As the traditional background is rapidly changing in China with the opening of the Olympics and the World Exposition coming up in the near future, we wanted to preserve the traditional scenery in China through the eyes of the artists, and so planned the project, "Sketching Trip to China by Japanese and Western Painting Artists." Unfortunately we had to cancel this project due to the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS). Our former and late Chair, Mr. Fukushi Sakamoto(passed away in June 2004),suggested a "Sketching Trip to the Kingdom of Belgium" focusing on the ancient European city of Bruges. This plan materialized with the positive cooperation by artists who are connected with this association. This exhibition "Ancient Cities of Belgium by Wandering Artists" is the result of just one part of our project for 2003.
Belgium, having the Netherlands, Germany, Luxemburg, and France as neighboring countries, is divided into two regions at Brussels, the capital. The northern region is Flemish (German/Dutch) whereas the southern region is Wallon (Latin/French). It can be said that the regions, which include cultures with contrasting traditions, symbolize a United Europe which is proud of its cultural diversity. Today, it is well known that Brussels, as the headquarters of the European Union, is playing a central role in Europe which is aiming at integration through diversity.
  There is much attractive cultural heritage in the cities of these regions, which prospered as the center of interactions and trade for many years, including Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and modern architecture. Needless to say, the remnants of old Europe which are symbolized by belfry-towered churches and fort towers, still remain. From water routes, bridges and roads, to roofs, window sills and brick walls of the houses, shadows of olden times fall across everyday life in the ancient cities. Furthermore, the influence left by history can still be felt in the sceneries of modern buildings. We believe that this project has brought new experiences to all the participating Japanese artists, with backgrounds in Japanese or Western painting. In this expressions by surrealist artists such as James Ensor , Rene Magritte, and Paul Delvaux. 
  Here we can see the deep impressions carved into the minds of the Japanese artists that participated in this sketching trip, and who wandered around sketching the ancient cities in a region rich with cultural characteristics. To exhibit the fruits of this trip, I believe that this exhibition plays a significant role in the interchange of the cultures in fine arts. I would like to thank all those who have been involved in realizing this exhibition.

April 2005


Copyright (C) 2002-2018 The Japan Association for the Promotion of Arts, All Rights Reserved.