Women Divers of Hokuetsu
by Shinsui Tanaka
Through May 4, 2021
Shinsui Tanaka (Japanese, 1902–1979), Women Divers of Hokuetsu, 1940, painting mounted as four-panel folding screen; ink and colors on paper, Stoddard Acquisition Fund, 2017.18
To coincide with The Kimono in Print: 300 Years of Japanese Design, the Japanese gallery will feature an installation of a four-panel folding screen — measuring over seven feet in height — that depicts a group of female free-divers on Japan’s northwestern coast. Their striped garments are a nod to an enduring pattern introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century that has been popular in kimono designs since then. The artist, Shinsui Tanaka, also pays homage to a 2,000- year-old Japanese tradition, ama (diving), carried out mostly by women, who famously plunge great depths for pearls, and, in some cases, seafood. Tanaka captures the four women’s strong and independent spirit as they lie or stand on a rocky cliffside, watching the crashing waves.