May 16 Stephanie Su

Friday, May 16, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 156

Imagining the Orient: Nakamura Fusetsu’s Chinese Subject Painting

Stephanie Su
PhD Candidate, University of Chicago

始制文字_1924 copy

This paper examines the politics of refashioning the past in early twentieth century Japanese art through a case study of Nakamura Fusetsu (1866-1943). During the modern period of nation-building and self-redefinition, the visual representation of “China” as an idealized cultural entity became contested terrain for Japanese painters, who gave form to their cultural assumptions and artistic ambitions. From 1901~1904, Fusetsu studied academic painting in France, and from 1907 to 1934, his submission for official exhibitions consistently included Chinese subjects based on that genre. The current scholarship categorized this body of works as “Chinese history painting;” however, Fusetsu himself in fact never used this term, instead, describing them as “Oriental subject” (tōyō daizai) paintings. Fusetsu’s characterization is worthy of notice. If they were not “history painting,” what were them and what should we call them? In addition, he articulated in his biography that his motivation for these works was to demonstrate the merits of the Japanese people. How could painting Chinese subjects manifest his cultural identity? By closely examining Fusetsu’s works within larger social-political contexts, this paper asks what role Chinese culture played in the development of modern Japanese art.

Friday, May 16, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 156

Persons with disability who may need assistance, please contact Anne Feng anf@uchicago.edu

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