During the festivities of the 150th anniversary of the relations between France and Japan, this exhibition puts the work of two artists face to face: Mathurin Méheut (1882-1958), French painter who worked in Japan, and Kojiro Akagi (born in 1934), Japanese painter who has lived in Paris for the last 45 years.
Right bank and left bank
Even though they lived a century apart, the two artists followed a similar procedure, including an attempt to understand the culture that was foreign to them. The exhibition will be held simultaneously on two sites. On the right bank, at the town hall of the IXth arrondissement the public can see the oil and watercolours of the two artists. On the left bank, the Maison de Bretagne hosts their graphic works. The museums in Brittany have made important loans of works by Mathurin Méheut for this event, and they will also dedicate (at Lamballe and Morlaix) a large retrospective to the painter for the fiftieth anniversary of his death.
Méheut, a semester in Japan
Born in Britany, at Lamballe, where a museum is dedicated to him, Mathurin Méheut settled at the very beginning of the XXth century in Paris, where his illustrations of natural history were remarked (animals, plants), while he collaborated in particular in the Encyclopédie artistique et documentaire de la plante (1913). There he had the opportunity to rub elbows with artists such as Mucha. Following his first personal exhibition, at the museum of decorative arts (1913), he was granted a scholarship by the Fondation Albert Kahn, aimed at financing a world tour. On 10 January 1914, the liner La Provence sailed from the Havre with Mathurin Méheut and his wife Marguerite on board. He spent over six months in Japan, and brought back a great number of sketches from which he later painted major, large format frescoes. Some thirty paintings of his, from private and public collections, are brought together in this exhibition.
Akagi and the streets of Paris
Born in 1934 at Okayama-shi in Japan, Kojiro Akagi arrived in France in 1963 and entered the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts (National School of Fine Arts) in Paris. Akagi started by painting directly from what he saw. He drew the streets of Paris in ink and watercolour then transposed them to oil through a very meticulous technique, in which his «trade mark» is a white or red line (his fetish colour, Aka meaning «red» in Japanese) in thick relief. He was fascinated by Parisian architecture, but also painted nudes and still lives. He won the Gold Medal for watercolours at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1971, and then received various other prices and distinctions and has shown his work in a great number of many major institutions (the musée Carnavalet has 111 works of his),
Catalogue of the exhibition: 44 pages, paperback, 27 coloured illustrations, introduction by four representatives of the art and diplomatic worlds.