Dadan @ BAM

In order to create Dadan, I started rehearsals with the performers in the summer of 2007.  At that time we had no idea that we would create a piece like this. If a group of men who just wanted to strike the drums would gather and practice intensely, a performance would come out of that energy.

So we told ourselves.

As for the name of the piece, we didn’t have any assurance that we could complete it in the future. But fortunately, in 2009 we were able to create this work called Dadan, and show it to the public.

The word Dadan is written with the kanji characters that literally mean “men drumming,” but at the same time we tried to come up with a name which would put across the sense of drumming when written in roman letters, would feel dynamic, and be easy for people around the world to say.

Dadan saw its world premiere in Tokyo during September 2009, and the success of this initial run led to its foreign debut at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France, with four sold-out performances in 2012.

Following such success abroad, Dadan toured across Japan in 2012 and was showcased twice at the “Earth Celebration” annual international performing arts festival on Sado Island. Tours in Spain and France followed during 2014, and then in October 2015, Dadan was performed in Hong Kong—a first in Asia outside of Japan. The South American debut took place in March of 2016 in Brazil. 

The 2017 Dadan performances are part of its first North American tour, and are presented as a part of Kodo’s 35th Anniversary celebrations. For Dadan’s US tour, I would like to express my gratitude to the sponsors who made this possible. I hope to be able to continue to create even better performances in the future. I will be very happy if you enjoy our performance.

—Tamasaburo Bando, Dadan Artistic Director

Never has drumming seemed so elegant, flawlessly coordinated, primal, powerful, precise and curiously meditative, until these guys came along.

*first three images from the net

Kodo performed in BAM
March 4th, 2017

Philadelphia – A City Street || An Institution

Albert Barnes taught people to look at works 
of art primarily in terms of their visual relationships.

The Barnes is home to one of the world’s greatest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern European paintings, with especially deep holdings in Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso. Assembled by Dr. Albert C. Barnes between 1912 and 1951, the collection also includes important examples of African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork.

The minute you step into the galleries of the Barnes collection, you know you’re in for an experience like no other. Masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso hang next to ordinary household objects—a door hinge, a spatula, a yarn spinner. On another wall, you might see a French medieval sculpture displayed with a Navajo textile. These dense groupings, in which objects from different cultures, time periods, and media are all mixed together, are what Dr. Barnes called his “ensembles.”

In this spirit, here is an ”ensemble” of my own, a compilation of images from the up and coming Comcast Technology Center – with its dangerous-looking platform lift – and the Barnes Foundation. Photography inside the galleries is not permitted and, for once, I understand. With its small rooms and artworks arranged over the entire length and width of the walls, the ”ensembles” are not easy to capture – at least not by the casual photographer.

The Barnes Foundation

February 25th, 2017

Two angry faces – in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Both belong to Renée, drawn by French artist Jacques Villon.

Villon, also known as Gaston Duchamp, was one of Marcel Duchamp’s siblings but, in order to distinguish himself from them, he started using the pseudonym with which he became known.

Renée was the daughter of Villon’s cousin and the subject of several works by the artist.

Doesn’t she look angry in these drawings? I wonder what – or who – could be responsible for this frown on her face.

Renée. Three Quarter View, 1911. Jacques Villon

Renée. Three Quarter View, 1911 (detail). Jacques Villon
Renée. Full Face, 1911 (detail). Jacques Villon
Renée. Full Face, 1911 (detail). Jacques Villon

Philadelphia Museum of Art
February, 22nd 2017


Philadelphia – Museum of Art

Vast in size, rich in collections with major works from European, American and Asian artists, from paintings and prints to decorative items and furniture, it will require at least three hours for a ”quick” overview – and that includes the main building only. For the museum manages several annexes such as the Rodin Museum and the Perelman Building across the street, which is why your ticket will be valid for two consecutive days – in case you have the stamina to visit them all (which we didn’t).

The images below show a very brief part of what you can expect to see in the museum; I skipped most of the paintings in favour of objects and furniture that got my attention.

The Greek Revival facade.
Diana, 1892-1893, in gilded copper sheets by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Diana is arguably the best-known work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was recognized at the turn of the century as the country’s finest sculptor. When installed in 1893 on the tower of New York’s Madison Square Garden to serve as a weather vane, Diana ruled the highest point in Manhattan. The sculpture’s gilded form caught the sun during the day and was illuminated at night by the city’s first electric floodlights. Madison Square Garden was demolished in 1925 and the Philadelphia Museum of Art adopted the sculpture in 1932. Diana has reigned as the goddess of the Museum’s Great Stair Hall ever since.
From a Tapestry showing Constantine Directing the Building of Constantinople, 1623-25. A composition designed by Peter Paul Rubens. Detail showing that some things never change.
High Chest of Drawers, 1740-50. Curly maple, red pine. Armchair, 1745-55. Walnut. All made in Philadelphia.
Butaca Chair, 1730-70. Mahogany, original leather upholstery and brass. Probably made in Mexico.
Fireplace, Doorway and Pair of Andirons, ca. 1936-37. Carved oak, stone, copper hearth, iron. Made by Wharton Esherick, American 1887-1970, in Pennsylvania.
White oak and seed beads from the Mandala Series (on the wall), 2013 and 2016. A collaboration between David Ellsworth and his wife, Wendy Ellsworth, a seed bead artist. Burned and pained ash spheres (on the floor), symbolizing form in motion, from the Solstice Series, 1990-91. David Ellsworth. All made in Pennsylvania (Quakertown).
Window. Created for Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, installed 1983. Forty porcelain tiles washed with copper salts, each handcrafted and applied to frosted glass; wood frame. Made in Philadelphia by Rudolf Staffel.
Line Ascending #5, #10, #11, from the Emergence Series 2013-15. Oak burl, black ash burl. Made by David Ellsworth in Pennsylvania (Quakertown).
Furniture, part of a lavishly ornamented suite made in Philadelphia for the house of merchant William Waln and his wife, Mary Wilcocks Waln. Imitating ancient Greek and Roman furniture, sumptuously painted, gilded and upholstered in the latest style of the time. Designed in 1808 by Benjamin Henry Latrobe and made by John Aitken.
Furniture, part of a lavishly ornamented suite made in Philadelphia for the house of merchant William Waln and his wife, Mary Wilcocks Waln. Imitating ancient Greek and Roman furniture, sumptuously painted, gilded and upholstered in the latest style of the time. Designed in 1808 by Benjamin Henry Latrobe and made by John Aitken.
Secretary Bookcase, 1827. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, stained burl ash, white pine cedrela, red cedar, yellow poplar, dark wood stringing, brass, gilt decoration; glass doors and pulls; brass lock. Made in Philadelphia by Anthony G. Quervelle.
The Clinic of Dr. Agnew, 1889. Oil on canvas, by Philadelphia’s very own, Thomas Eakins.
The Japanese Aesthetic was introduced to Americans following Japan’s opening to international trade in 1854. Favouring asymmetry, flat patterns and unfamiliar materials and colour harmonies, it presented a refreshing alternative to that of the West. Here, the reflection of Eakins’ Clinic of Dr. Agnew is a harmonious bridge connecting the two aesthetics.
The Concert Signer, 1890-92. Oil on canvas by Thomas Eakins. Determined to suggest the sound of her voice and the emotions it invoked, Eakins asked his friend, soprano Weda Cook, to pose for hours while repeatedly singing the same few notes from ”O Rest in the Lord” by Felix Mendelssohn. Upon the painting’s completion, Eakins had these notes carved into its fame.
The Annunciation, 1898. Oil on canvas by Henry Ossawa Tanner.
Follette, 1890. Oil on cardboard by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Oh, look!… another Fourteen-Year-Old Little Dancer, by Edgar Degas. If I don’t see one in a major museum, I will begin to worry.
When the room becomes the canvas.
The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) by Marcel Duchamp. A work of art to be looked both at and through, prompts the Museum of Art Handbook – and I made sure to follow the instructions. Duchamp started working on it in 1915 and stopped in 1923 stating that it was ”definitely unfinished”. A few years later, while in transit from an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1926-27, the two panels were shattered. Ten years would pass before Duchamp repaired the glass. Satisfied with the result and appearance of the eerily symmetrical cracks in the upper and lower sections, he declared the work finished!
Marcel Duchamp’s alter ego.
Homage to Juan Gris, 1953-54. A box construction by one of America’s most intriguing artists, Joseph Cornell.


I hope you enjoyed this very brief and – admittedly- subjective tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Coming up next, two angry faces.

February 22nd, 2017

Philadelphia – The Skywalkers

Inside the ”Winter Garden” aka main lobby of the Comcast Center. Two show-stopping public art installations.

The Comcast Experience, a 25.4ft tall, 83.3 feet, 2,000sf high-definition LED screen with incredibly clear, almost 3-D moving images, ranging from the clock wheels pictured here, to monumental natural landscapes to Betty Boop dancing.

And the permanent installation ”Humanity in Motion” by Jonathan Borofsky – 12 realistically painted life-size figures of stainless steel, walking on horizontal poles and two figures standing at ground level. Guess which ones?

February 22nd, 2017

Crazy electric hair

Of all the glass sculptures in this exhibition, Neon 206 stands out as the craziest. Installed specifically to reflect on the Conservatory windows and the pool outside, it must be seen in the dark or else it would look just like a bundle of bent tubes (which is what it is). But at night it transforms into an explosion of light, the perfect backdrop for those playful shadowy portraits; snapshots of electric dreams.

With this neon light craziness, we bid farewell to the Botanical Garden and the magical world of Dale Chihuly. Next stop, Philadelphia…

Neon 206 (2017)

Chihuly Nights, New York Botanical Garden

October 14th, 2017

A walk down memory lane

When lemonade was served in lace crystal glasses and sipped through grandma’s drinking glass straws. Those lean, sleek pastel coloured things of beauty that were kept locked only to come out when there were visitors – on Sundays mostly. Despite handling with care, they succumbed to their fragile nature, one by one, drink after drink. They were never replaced. It was the dawn of the 1970s and Tupperware had already taken Europe by storm since the 1960s. The plastic age had arrived.


White Tower with Fiori
Glasshouse Fiori

Chihuly Nights, New York Botanical Garden

October 14th, 2017