The Louvre Show in Osaka: “Scary…scary…”

Went to the Louvre exhibition at the Osaka National Museum of Art in Higobashi today. It explores the theme of childhood, motherhood and families in art. An interesting (and perplexing) mish-mash of stuff from the Louvre (much of it from the storage cellars, I think), it would have been better as a two-part show {note: it is a two-part show – the other half is being shown in Kyoto; I guess I meant it would’ve been better as a four-part show}. As it was, one got to look at Egyptian terracotta, hieroglyphics and all, next to ancient toys found in present-day Iran.

(the tiny, 2000-year-old hedgehog pull-toy was worth the price of admission!), next to sentimental 18th-century French paintings, next to Roman statues of child satyrs. There was one beautiful Valezquez painting of a young princess, some sketches of children at a crepe stall by Rembrandt, some fat Rubens babies, a 14th-century brass (?) Madonna and Child. There was an Egyptian sarcophagus, made of wood, showing the inscriptions along the side for the tomb of a child (the mummy of the child, mercifully still wrapped, was still in the box, which was in a climate-controlled plexiglass case). It was a bizarre bazaar, of uneven quality. But it was all from the Louvre, and that’s all Osakans need to hear: the place was pretty busy for a Tuesday. It’s still worth going to see, however, and you should give yourself more than a couple of hours because most the stuff you’ll want to spend time with is, oddly, jammed near the end, and you’ll find yourself running out of time to enjoy it if you arrive 90 minutes or so before closing time, as I did.

While I was taking my time to get a good look at some tiny Ancient Greek figurines, I was beside a couple in their 30s. The man, goateed, wearing Sarah Palin glasses (they are, after all, made in Fukui) was muttering something about Hellenism (or “herenizumu“) and saying “yappari” (of course, naturally) a lot. She was muttering variations on, “kowai, kowai. Kao-ga kowai. Mecha kowai” (Scary. Scary. The faces are scary. Really scary). She kept saying it, all down the line. I held back and let them move on, afraid that I eventually would have bopped her on the head with one of the heavier marble bits if she’d said it one more time. How did those poor Greeks build a whole civilization without Hello Kitty? Beats me, honey.

At the exit, there was a bottleneck as a crowd admired the biggest, most camp canvases there (over 8 feet tall): two paintings of fat French cupids frolicking on puffy, 18th-century clouds. She was there again, Kowai Lady, but this time she was in her element. “Kawaii, kawaii!” (“Cute! Cute!”) she chanted, as did everyone else. This was the Real France, of Versailles and Marie Antoinette (whom everyone loves here) and Takarazuka musicals (actually, I find them a bit kowai). I, the big gaijin grump, went back for another look at the Medieval tapestry of children at play, which nobody else was paying much attention to, and sumimasen-ed my way out the door.

This entry was posted in art, Blogroll, culture, France, japan, Osaka, 大阪, 日本. Bookmark the permalink.

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