Dr Lena Fritsch is the Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. Recent exhibitions and publications include Tokyo: Art & Photography (2021), A.R. Penck: I Think in Pictures (2019) and Ibrahim El Salahi: A Sudanese Artist in Oxford (2018). One of her main research areas is Japanese art and photography, with monographs including Ravens & Red Lipstick: Japanese Photography since 1945 (Thames & Hudson/Seigensha, 2018). Before joining the Ashmolean she was a curator at Tate Modern, co-curating Giacometti (2017) and Agnes Martin (2015). Before coming to the UK, she worked at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin. Fritsch holds a PhD in Art History from Bonn University, Germany, and also studied at Keio University, Tokyo.
Doll Festival, 1966 by Japanese artist Shinohara Ushio (b.1932) is an eye-catching screen prints triptych. I love how the work combines traditional Japanese motifs with neon colours. There are five silhouettes: kabuki actors, a parade leader, a male figure with a Western hat and a high-ranking courtesan (oiran). The title of the work is deliberately provocative as the ‘doll festival’ refers to a traditional annual girls’ celebration in March, in which a set of dolls is laid out on a platform or stand. The dolls represent the empress and courtly women, rather than courtesans and actors. Shinohara created numerous works that featured oiran in a Pop style, but most of them did not survive.
Bovey Lee (b.1969), Little Crimes II, 2008, paper cut, 48.5 x 48 cm.
Presented by Anselmo Reyes, in memory of Mary Tregear, Ashmolean EA2011.43.
Cai Quo Qiang (b.1957), Legend. Shooting the Suns, 1994, gunpowder and mixed media on paper, 68.5 x 53 cm
Bequeathed by Michael Sullivan, 2013, Ashmolean EA2015.37
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010), Birds in a Tree, 1989-95, ink on paper, 69.2 x 101.5 cm
Presented in honour of the 70th birthdays of Jose Mauricio and Angelita Trinidad Reyes 1995, Ashmolean EA1995.252
Miyagawa Kōzan I (1842-1916), Small porcelain vase with a peach bloom-type glaze, late 19th century, 5.3 cm x 6.9 cm
Presented by Sir Herbert Ingram, Ashmolean EA1956.1853