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Looking Back: Four Years of the Ronin|Globus Artist-in-Residence Program

For the past four years, summer has signaled not only warm weather, but also the arrival of the winner of the annual Ronin|Globus Artist-in-Residence program in New York City.

Hosted jointly by Ronin Gallery and Globus Washitsu, Ronin|Globus Artist-in-Residence seeks to stimulate cross-cultural dialogue by providing the opportunity for Japanese visual artists to live, work and exhibit in New York City. Each year, the selected Artist-in-Residence is the featured artist in Ronin Gallery’s summer exhibition. In addition, they receive up to a one-month stay at Globus Washitsu in central Manhattan, a $1,000 cash stipend, and a round-trip ticket between Tokyo and NYC. During their time in New York, the Artist-in-Residence participates in events around the city and a portion of exhibition proceeds goes to the annual charitable sponsor (past sponsors include the Japan Society and Brooklyn Botanic Garden).

The program assumes a new theme each year. Typically, the annual theme is announced in the fall. In the spring, a blinded panel of prestigious judges select the program winner and finalists based on three criteria: artistic excellence, clarity of concept, and originality in interpretation of theme. Judges are selected to reflect a diversity of viewpoints and opinions. Past panels have consisted of museum curators, individual collectors, philanthropists, and experts on Japanese art.

As the program celebrates its fifth anniversary, this pattern has been put on hold as we prioritize the health of our artists, team, supporters, and the larger international community. Though our 2020 program is delayed, we're commemorating the fifth anniversary of the program with a look back at four successful years and our four wonderfully talented past program winners.

The Great Wave: Images to Support the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund (2016)

Keisuke "OZ" Yamaguchi, The Images of the 33 Reincarnations of Kannon Wave - The Spirit of Tomorrow, 2016, mixed media, 31.5" x 47.25 ".
Keisuke "OZ" Yamaguchi, The Images of the 33 Reincarnations of Kannon Wave - The Spirit of Tomorrow, 2016, mixed media, 31.5" x 47.25 ".

As March 2016 marked the fifth anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the theme of the program's inaugural year was The Great Wave: Images to Support the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. A portion of the exhibition profits went to the Japan Society’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

Keisuke “OZ” Yamaguchi was selected as the inaugural Ronin|Globus Artist-in-Residence. His work blends traditional techniques with thoroughly modern imagery, considering the power of forces unseen. From the energy of scared spirits to the vivid imagery of human emotions, Yamaguchi gives form to a power as ever changing as the waves.


Yamaguchi performs an impromptu live painting demonstration in front of the William Tecumseh Sherman Monument in Central Park in 2016.

Born in Nagano Prefecture in 1986, Yamaguchi attended Nagano National College of Technology for Architecture in 2003. Following his graduation in 2007, he continued his education at Nagaoka Institute of Design, where he studied Architecture and the Environment. His focus has since shifted from architecture to painting. Yamaguchi has actively exhibited his contemporary paintings internationally since 2007. Yamaguchi often integrates process and product in his live painting performances. From the ruins of Ueda Castle in Nagano to Central Park in New York City, Yamaguchi’s original technique draws and enchants crowds.
Recently, Yamaguchi has found inspiration in ukiyo-e, carrying the spirit of the floating world into his contemporary paintings.

"OZ" Keisuke Yamaguchi , Yanada Gorouzaemon Suketake, from the series Portraits of the Faithful Loyal Retainers, 2018, 22.5" x 15".
"OZ" Keisuke Yamaguchi , Yanada Gorouzaemon Suketake, from the series Portraits of the Faithful Loyal Retainers, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 22.5" x 15".

Iki: Stylish, Simple and Sophisticated (2017)

The 2017 program took the theme Iki: Stylish, Simple, and Sophisticated. The concept of iki defies translation, existing as a culturally embedded phenomenon in Japan developed by Edo’s urban merchant class during the Edo period. During this program, artists explored iki, an aesthetic ideal tied to human imagination, clarity, and style, through a contemporary lens. A portion of this year’s exhibition proceeds went to the Japan Society to support future exhibitions.

Katsutoshi Yuasa. Tokyo Story. 2013. Oil-based woodcut on hand-painted paper. 39.5” x 72”.
Katsutoshi Yuasa, Tokyo Story, 2013, oil-based woodcut on hand-painted paper, 39.5” x 72”.

Katsutoshi Yuasa was selected as the 2017 Artist-in-Residence. Born in Tokyo in 1978, Yuasa is a contemporary woodblock print artist. His work presents a conversation between the contemporaneity of photography and the tradition of woodblock printmaking. Each woodblock print begins with his own digital photographs, which he then reinterprets as woodblock prints. In his words, the camera creates “fictional two-dimensional information in the surface…I have decided to use the woodcut technique as a way of adapting the subjective perception to the objective fiction.” This interplay between the emotional and the factual is neither reality nor fiction: Yuasa creates a “neutral space…in a new dimension.”


Yuasa giving a demonstration of his printmaking technique at Ronin Gallery.

Yuasa received BA in Fine Arts from Musashino Art University in 2002, where he studied painting and printmaking. He continued his study of printmaking in London, earning a MFA from the Royal College of Art in 2005. From MI-LAB to Musashino Art University, Yuasa has taught, lectured and led workshops throughout Europe and Asia. He has received numerous awards and scholarships, including Grand Prize at the 2015 CWAJ 60th Anniversary Print Show. He actively exhibits his work in solo and group shows worldwide. His work can be found in prestigious institutions such as the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Katsutoshi Yuasa, Life is good and good for you #1, 2017, woodblock print, 24" x 84".
Katsutoshi Yuasa, Life is good and good for you #1, 2017, woodblock print, 24" x 84".

Kacho Fugetsu: Bird, Flower, Wind, Moon (2018)

During the program’s third year, we partnered with Brooklyn Botanic Garden under the theme Kacho Fugetsu. Composed of the kanji for “flower,” “bird,” “wind,” and “moon,” kacho fugetsu evokes both the diverse phenomena of the natural world and a metaphorical significance beyond the physical realm. The third annual program considered contemporary interpretations of this powerful aesthetic and emotional tradition. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden graciously provided a plein air studio space for the duration of the program.

Asako Iwasawa, Breeze from the Morning, 29 x 80, acrylic on canvas.
Asako Iwasawa, Breeze from Morning, acrylic on canvas, 29" x 80".

Asako Iwasawa was named the 2018 Ronin | Globus Artist-in-Residence. Iwasawa is a contemporary Japanese painter from Akabane, Tokyo. In her entrancing paintings, she looks beyond the physical reality of the natural world and portrays the spirit of nature in her paintings. In her words, “nature is full of thrills and wonders…it impresses me to no end and fuels my imagination.” As she treads the boundary between imagination and landscape, she challenges her viewers’ sense of place.

Asako Iwasawa at work.
Iwasawa at work.

Iwasawa graduated from Tama Art University’s Textile Design course before managing Design Studio Himiko. She later discovered a passion for kimono design and worked at the batik studio Kimono Studio Dye Laboratory. Iwasawa spent 10 years living in the countryside, indulging her love for nature. Working as a farmer, she became intimately acquainted with the equally beautiful and harsh realities of the natural world. Though she returned to the city, she brought the vivid world of insects, plants and natural beauty back with her.

Asako Iwasawa, Korean Tree in Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 29" x 40".
Asako Iwasawa, Korean Tree in Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 29" x 40".

Ryusui: Flowing Stream, Running Water (2019)

The 2019 program took the the theme Ryusui (流水), meaning flowing stream and running water. Ryusui represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the natural world, changing according to the seasons and the gentle flow of water. Partnering once again with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the 2019 residency included a plein air studio in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Ryusui marked the busiest year of the program so far, with a number of affiliate programs arranged throughout the residency, including a public lecture, excursions to the Hudson River Valley and Fire Island, and tours of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Yoshihito Kawase, Water, 2019, mineral pigments, sumi, gold leaf and silver leaf on paper, 46" x 36".
Yoshihito Kawase, Water, 2019, mineral pigments, sumi, gold and silver leaf on paper, 46" x 36".

Yoshito Kawase was named the fourth annual Ronin|Globus Artist-in-Residence. Working as a nihonga or “Japanese-style painting” artist, Kawase uses mineral pigments to create a rich spectrum of color, layering gold, silver and textural carbon ink to create endlessly intriguing reflections of the overlooked wonders of the natural world. In his recent work, Kawase emphasizes the relationship between his subject matter and the materials themselves. Driven by the idea of yohaku–an idea characterized not by emptiness, but through an anxious presence, an ever-present atmosphere–Kawase explores the overlooked aspects, the “white darkness,” of life in his work.


Kawase at work in the Japanese Hill-and-Garden Pond at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Born in Tokyo in 1973, Yoshihito Kawase completed his PhD in Japanese style painting at Tokyo National University of the Arts. Kawase’s paintings have been featured in solo and group shows throughout Japan and can be found in permanent collections such as the Museum of Modern Art Ibaraki, the Sato Sakura Museum, and the Tokugawa Art Museum. He is the recipient of the Yamatane Art Museum Nihonga Award (2016) and the 13th Sato International Culture Foundation Scholarship (2005).

Yoshihito Kawase, Fragrant Summer Breeze, 2019, mineral pigments, sumi, gold leaf and silver leaf on paper, 19.5" x 24".
Yoshihito Kawase, Fragrant Summer Breeze, 2019, mineral pigments, sumi, gold and silver leaf on paper, 19.5" x 24".

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While we hoped to welcome a fifth Artist-in-Residence into our Ronin Contemporary family this summer, we look forward to safety resuming the program in the near future. A thank you to all of our artists, judges, sponsors, and friends who have made this program such a success over the past five years. We look forward to many more years to come! To learn more about the program and to keep an eye on schedule updates, visit the program’s official website here.

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