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Learning Japanese 

The Jundt rolls out an exhibit of whimsical Japanese prints this week.

click to enlarge A portion of Takeshi Hara\'s \"Strokes
  • A portion of Takeshi Hara\'s \"Strokes

The Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University looks like a cathedral. A long open hallway is anchored by white columns and arched ceilings. Copper spheres seemingly float in mid-air above glass cases, but at the end of the hallway — where the baptismal bath water might be — is a receptionist desk.

This unassuming hallway is home to the Arcade Gallery. Now through July, four glass display cases here will display 20 contemporary Japanese prints from the university’s private collection — intaglio, screen, relief, lithograph and more —that originated between the early 1960s through the 2000s.

“Japanese printmakers are the best in the world,” says Karen Kaiser, assistant curator for education at the museum. “We really look to Japan as the inventors and masters of the art form.”

The collection is whimsical and meditative, featuring charcoal landscapes, strange surrealists worlds and abstract rainbow-colored prints.

“Ganda,” by Kouki Tsuritani, depicts a rhino with feathered arms and a cloaked head. Although dressed like a warrior, this beast appears to be using a compass on paper.

“Metamorphosing Head 1,” by Atsuo Sakazume, depicts a face patched together with puzzle pieces whose closed, sunken eyes and split lip are offset by a vortex in the middle of its forehead.

“Mr. & Mrs. Rainbow,” by Ay-O, depicts a naked man and woman with intertwined arms. The couple’s faceless (though anatomically correct) bodies are made of layer upon layer of vibrant color.

“There is really a magic to printmaking,” Kaiser says. “The skill and work that goes into each piece is just as romantic and beautiful as the print itself, and these prints are extraordinarily beautiful. Each of these artists are masters in their own design. They’ve really married the traditional Japanese art from with modern design.”

Japanese Prints exhibit • March 16-July 31 • Jundt Art Museum • 502 E. Boone Ave. • gonzaga.edu/jundt • (313-6613)

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