MAD | Music/Art/Design
Linda Hoaglund’s film examines one of the richest and most influential periods in the history of human art. In 1603, after a century of civil war, Japanese shogun Tokugawa took power and brought peace to the nation; Christian missionaries were expelled from the country and Western influence was consciously brought to a minimum. So began the Edo era, a time of isolation that lasted until 1868, and in which artists produced works that continue to characterize Japan but which are often misunderstood in the West.
Hoaglund shows how so many practices we associate with modern art, such as minimalism and extreme stylization, actually date from the Edo period. The folding screens and scrolls on display in her documentary are wonderful to behold; they’re brought to us in 4K images by cinematographer Kasamatsu Norimichi alongside images of nature, which was the key inspiration for Edo artists. Rounded out with great expert commentary and a serene musical score, Edo Avant Garde is an eye-opening pleasure.