Witness The Origins Of Japanese Art And Culture At Bellagio Gallery Of Fine Art

By Claire Harper | January 6, 2020 | Culture

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art’s newest exhibition explores Japanese art and culture from its earliest forms—with bonus pieces on display for the first time.


“Goggle-eyed Dogū” (final Jomon period, 1000 B.C. to 300 B.C.), 29.4 cm by 20.4 cm by 9.5 cm

Drawing art fanatics from across the country, Material Existence: Japanese Art From Jōmon Period to Present, a two-part, yearlong exhibition created in a collaboration between curator Alison Bradley and MGM Resorts Art & Culture, features a stunning array of Japanese artwork, from ancient to contemporary—most of which originated in the Kansai region of Japan. Viewers are invited to learn about the region’s unique artwork aesthetics, displayed as both broad strokes and intimate objects, with “hopes that the audience exits with a new perspective and a desire to learn more about Japanese art,” says Bradley.

Material Existence quickly gained national recognition for its rare, never-before-seen artwork: from the “Goggle-eyed Dogū,” a spectacular clay ritual object in the shape of a human body, which has left Japan only once before and is being exhibited publicly for the first time, to the “Haniwa Head of a Warrior,” a helmeted warrior head from the later Kofun period, and the “Kohei Nawa,” which is on display in the U.S. for the first time. These gems are displayed among a slew of medium-varietal and era-spanning pieces, all portraying the distinguishable aspects of Japanese art and culture. “Each work is meant to be contemplated in and of itself, and, at the same time, the exhibition is meant to be considered whole,” says Bradley. “My hope is that the audience exits with a new perspective, and perhaps a desire to learn more about Japanese art and their own relationship to art and nature.”

While part two of Material Existence won’t be unveiled until May 16, art fanatics can find hints of what’s to come—think neon, colorless glass, ceramics and painting—through pieces, namely “Stone and Light No. 4,” currently on display. The compelling work of art by Tatsuo Kawaguchi appears contemporary yet ancient, simple yet profoundly complex, and “it places the viewer at crossroads,” says Bradley, adding that it sets the tone for what’s to come in gallery two. And if this piece—and everything on display in part one—is any indication of what’s to come, we’re in for a treat. Part one through April 26, part two May 16-Oct. 11, Bellagio Resort & Casino, bellagio.com/bgfa


Tatsuo Kawaguchi, “Stone and Light No. 4” (1989, stone and fluorescent lamp), 50 cm by 237 cm by 36 cm


Photography by: “Goggle-eyed dogu” photo by Yu Okuzono; “Stone and Light No. 4” ©Tatsuo Kawaguchi, photo by Sadamu Saito/Courtesy of Shigeru Yokota Gallery