Japanese fables by the Miedema Brothers

Illustration for the fable:The adventures of Kintarō"

In the exhibition ‘Japanese fables by the Miedema Brothers’, Japan Museum SieboldHuis presents twenty well-known and lesser-known Japanese stories in a special way, placing animals and demons centre stage. The three Miedema brothers made more than ninety drawings on paper, in which the soft appearance is sometimes in sharp contrast to the gruesome stories they represent.

The Miedema Brothers is an artistic alliance of brothers Harry (1954), Hessel (1962) and Peter (1967) Miedema. They create works in which animals, creatures and demons play the leading role, inspired by the symbolic world of Japanese fables, having converted the stories into a modern visual language. Together they tell a story where it doesn’t matter which brother made what. When looking at the works, something wonderful happens, precisely because of the similarities and differences: what one does not show, the other shows. This is how the Miedemas create their own mysterious world with fantastic creatures, from a combination of people, animals and strange organisms. All works are drawn on paper with pastel, charcoal, conté crayon or colored pencil, in fixed format, single as well as in diptychs and triptychs, in homage to Japanese woodblock prints.

Ancient Japanese stories often revolve around karma, in which good deeds are rewarded and bad ones punished. Talking animals with human characteristics often play an important role and there is a clear moral to each story. The versatile stories are sometimes gruesome, illogical or unfair, but always revolve around human feelings such as fear, jealousy, pain, loyalty and justice. Japan is well known for its fable animals such as the kappa (river monster), oni (horned demon) and tanuki (raccoon dog). The exhibition also brings talking frogs, cats and a hare, an enchanting crane, the supernatural Baku who devours nightmares and Umibōzu, the shy sea ghost.

Until 27 August