Two-part, year-long exhibition will explore ancient to contemporary Japanese art spanning Jomon period to present day

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MGM Resorts Art & Culture will unveil Material Existence: Japanese Art from Jomon Period to Present at Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA) on November 16. Curated by independent curator Alison Bradley, this two-part, year-long exhibition invites visitors to experience large-scale installations complemented by smaller, intimate works, some of which are being shown in the U.S. for the first time.

Many pieces on view originate from the country’s Kansai region, and all are unified by an attitude towards materiality and the natural world special to Japanese tradition and culture.

“MGM Resorts is excited to present a survey of art that invites cultural discovery, dialogue and exchange, bringing in some of the most unique pieces and objects made in Japan from ancient to contemporary times, including works never before shown in the United States,” said Tarissa Tiberti, Executive Director of MGM Resorts Art & Culture.

Exhibition Curator Alison Bradley said, “Working with MGM Resorts Art & Culture to accomplish their mission of supporting and showcasing Japanese art and contemporary culture is a great privilege. Through long-term exhibitions and the concurrent Artist Studio at Bellagio, MGM Resorts is fostering a welcoming environment for artists, as well as a highly visible space for art from Japan, both within BGFA and the ever-evolving MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection.”

Part I: November 16, 2019—April 26, 2020 

The exhibition at Bellagio begins with a rare and spectacular Goggle-eyed Dogu, a clay ritual object in the shape of a human body. This piece is an incredible example of the most intact Goggle-eyed Dogu in existence and will be on view in the United States for the first time. It represents the most highly refined form of J?mon pottery and can be considered to be Japan’s first foray into sculpture in the years between 1,000 and 300 BC.

The exhibition also features an iconic Haniwa figure, a helmeted head of a warrior, offering an extraordinary example of the later Kofun period of the mid-third century to sixth century AD. These figures were made for ritual use and set up around mounded tombs. Together with the Dog? figure, the two ancient objects provide a sense of the rich and enduring history of art-making on the Japanese archipelago and the foundation of aesthetics and spirituality to the accompanying forms of contemporary art on view.

Part I also will feature significant works by notable contemporary Japanese artists Tatsuo Kawaguchi, Tadaaki Kuwayama, ceramic artist Shiro Tsujimura and his sons Kai Tsujimura and Yui Tsujimura, and Kohei Nawa. Together the works on view showcase an aesthetic which embraces and challenges nature, materiality and social awareness as it molds material into form.

Part II: May 16, 2020—October 11, 2020

The second part of Material Existence explores earth and light on a deeper level, allowing visitors to experience the depths of sand, clay and glass through the Japanese aesthetic. Some of the pieces from Part I of the exhibition directly correlate to those in Part II. Tatsuo Kawaguchi’s Stone and Light (1971-1989) in Part I serves as a resonant starting point for works that will be shown in the latter portion of the show, such as Ritsue Mishima’s breathtaking colorless glass works and Takashi Kunitani’s neon light installation. In this manner, material creates a visual bridge between centuries.

Toshimitsu Imai’s Modern Times (1956), a historical work composed of sand, paint and resin, will highlight the cultural exchange of avant-garde art between Japan and the West in the late 1950s. In the more contemporary realm, a site-specific installation by Eiji Uematsu will offer a deeper understanding of environment through his mastery of earth-based material.

Artists in Part II of the exhibition also include Ritsue Mishima, Kohei Nawa, Eiji Uematsu, Takashi Kunitani, Toshimitsu Imai in addition to rare examples of Jomon pottery.

During this exhibition, BGFA will be open daily 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for Nevada residents, seniors 65 and older, and students, teachers and military with valid ID.  Locals are invited to visit the gallery for $11 admission on Wednesday nights from 5 – 7 p.m. Children five and younger are free. For additional information, call (702) 693-7871 or (877) 957-9777, or visit