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Japan Society Awards $6 Million Grant to The Odawara Art Foundation to Support Construction of a New Arts Complex in Japan

Organizations will Partner for Theater Productions, Exhibitions, Residency Program & More

New York, NY, January 31, 2014 – Japan Society has awarded a $6 million grant to The Odawara Art Foundation in Japan toward construction of its new facilities. The Foundation, established by artist Hiroshi Sugimoto in 2009, promotes and preserves Japanese traditions and culture from a global perspective. To further this mission, the Foundation will construct a multi-disciplinary arts complex equipped with stages specially designed for traditional noh theater, as well as exhibition halls, gardens, tea ceremony rooms and more. Set to be completed in spring 2016 in the Enoura region of the city of Odawara, approximately 60 miles west of Tokyo, the complex will serve artists and audiences in Japan and from around the world through international collaborations, including joint production of a new noh drama to be premiered at Japan Society's New York headquarters, a joint artist-in-residency program at the complex and collaborative exhibitions.

Japan Society and The Odawara Art Foundation share several common endeavors, including cultivating a constructive, dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan, especially through arts and culture. Motoatsu Sakurai, President of Japan Society, commented “We are excited to join with one of the most famous living Japanese artists to foster culture in Japan and promote it internationally. And we are thrilled that Japan Society will have a partner institution in Japan at the completion of the arts complex, which will enable us to grow our activities enormously to fulfill our mission to enhance mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan."

Wilbur Ross, Chairman of Japan Society, said, “I cannot imagine a relationship more in line with Japan Society’s mission than to work with an artist in developing a new cultural institution in Japan, whose activities will broaden American understanding of Japanese culture. I hope this will become a template for future relationships with other leading Japanese artists and cultural organizations.”

For the inauguration of the arts complex, Japan Society and the Foundation will create a new noh drama, drawn from a historical incident that took place in the Odawara region in the late 16th century around Sen no Rikyu, one of the most influential tea masters, known for wabi-cha style tea ceremony. The premiere is planned for fall 2016 on the stages of the Society's Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium in New York and the Foundation's new facilities in Japan. Future collaborations between the two organizations will include residency programs to provide American performing artists with opportunities to spend time in the Foundation's noh theater for research and experimentation, among other initiatives.

With an emphasis on visual and performing arts, from classical to contemporary and spanning genres, The Odawara Art Foundation has produced several exhibitions and live performances, including Origins of Art: Science, Architecture, History, Religion (Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa; November 2010-October 2011); Sanbaso (Sogetsu Theater, Tokyo; December 2010); Sonezaki Shinju (Kanagawa Arts Theater, Yokohama; March 2011). The Foundation's production of Sanbaso, divine dance, performed by Japan’s celebrated stage, film and television star Mansai Nomura, with scenic and costume design by Mr. Sugimoto, was presented in New York in March 2013 by Japan Society and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. This unprecedented artistic collaboration drew sold-out audiences and favorable critical response. Most recently, the Foundation organized the acclaimed European tour of the National Bunraku Puppet Theater for the production of Sonezaki Shinju: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, which traveled to Madrid, Rome and Paris.

Odawara Art Foundation founder Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in 1948 in Tokyo and lives in both New York and Japan. Mr. Sugimoto's art blurs the lines between photography, painting, installation and architecture. His iconic photographs bridge Eastern and Western ideologies, tracing the origins of time and societal progress. Notable series include Dioramas (1976- ), Theaters (1978- ) and Seascapes (1980- ). In 1999 Deutsche Guggenheim commissioned and presented an exhibition of his series Portraits (1999- ). His work is held in museums and collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; The National Gallery, London; the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Smithsonian Institute of Art, Washington D.C.; and Tate, London. Currently, his retrospective at Leeum, the prestigious art museum in Seoul, is on view. He is also known for his significant collection of traditional Japanese art works and ritual artifacts, which he has donated to The Odawara Art Foundation.

Mr. Sugimoto has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Japan Society, which commenced with the 1987 group show, Contemporary Japanese Art in America. Notably, in 2005, Japan Society, Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Washington D.C. organized a North American tour of Hiroshi Sugimoto: History of History, which included fossils and 15th through 17th century works from his collection. In addition to Japan Society, the exhibition traveled to the Smithsonian Institute. In 2012, Mr. Sugimoto was honored with the “Japan Society Award” at the Society’s Annual Dinner, at which time he expressed, “Japan Society Gallery program has been a very, very influential education source for me.” Over the years, Mr. Sugimoto has been a generous benefactor of the Japan Society as well.

An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. More at www.japansociety.org.

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Media Contacts:
Shannon Jowett, 212-715-1205, sjowett@japansociety.org
Kuniko Shiobara, 212-715-1249, kshiobara@japansociety.org

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