From 4 May to 27 August 2023 Japan Museum SieboldHuis will present the exhibition ‘Japanese Fables by the Miedema Brothers’.
Exclusively for Japan Museum SieboldHuis, the artists have journeyed into the world of Japanese fables. Twenty well-and lesser-known stories are brought to life in which animals and demons play a central role. The artists have created over 90 drawings in which the delicate appearance contrasts sharply with the sometimes horrific narratives.
The Miedema Brothers exemplify the artistic commitment in which the brothers - each in his own unique way – create a magical world in which animals’ rule. The brothers Harry (1954), Hessel (1962) and Peter (1967) create works in which animals, creatures, and demons, inspired by the symbolic world of Japanese fables, play the lead roles. They gave their fantasy free rein and transformed the narratives into their own modern visual language, each in his own unique way. Together they tell a story whereby the artist is of lesser importance. When viewing the works, when observing the similarities and differences, something magical happens. What one artist omits, the other underscores.
The brothers create their very own mysterious, extraordinary world with fantasy creatures, made up of humans, animals, and strange organisms. Their works are drawn on paper with pastel, charcoal, conte chalk or coloured pencils, in a pre-defined format in dip and triptychs that refer to Japanese woodblock prints.
In modern day Japan you will find many references to ancient narratives. The stories often center around karma whereby good deeds are rewarded and evil ones punished. Often animals with human characteristics play an important role and a clearly defined moral can be found in the tale. The varied narratives are occasionally horrific, sometimes illogical, or even dishonest, however one never fails to notice that the story is always about human emotions such as fear, jealousy, pain, loyalty and justice.
There is a great love of talking animals in Japan and creatures with human characteristics. There are famous (fable) animals such as the kappa (river monster) the oni (demon with horns) and the tanuki (raccoon hound).
In the exhibition you will encounter talking frogs, cats and hares, an enchanting crane, the supernatural Baku who devours nightmares or the Umibōzu the shy sea ghost. These are some of the mysterious, sometimes frightening or benevolent creatures who will take you to the magical world of Japanese fables.