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Of Catfish and Earthquakes: The Contemporary Art of Yuta Niwa

ROM hosts emerging Japanese artist Yuta Niwa in a keynote presentation in support of the online exhibition, Aftershocks: Japanese Earthquake Prints, that focuses on his reinterpretation of these important historical art forms for contemporary audiences.

Hosted by Akiko Takesue, Niwa’s keynote presentation, supported by visual illustrations, will showcase his work, which incorporates traditional Japanese painting techniques and materials into artworks dealing with modern disasters such as earthquakes and infectious diseases.

After the presentation, enjoy an onstage discussion led by Akiko Takesue that explores the resilience of human beings in using humour to overcome grief – a major theme in both the historical prints and Niwa’s contemporary works. Learn more about how and why Yuta Niwa gravitated towards these historical prints as inspiration, how his work intersects with his personal and culture background, and the Japanese collective experience of disasters.

Note: This program will be in part presented in Japanese, with translation provided. 

This program is co-presented by ROM and The Japan Foundation, Toronto for the online exhibition Aftershocks: Japanese Earthquake Prints.


Yuta Niwa

Japanese artist Yuta Niwa working on a painting. Photo credit Art News Japan.

Painter. While using the context, materials, and techniques of Japanese-style painting, he creates works focusing on the history where invisible calamity or irresistible forces have been understood as "something black" in Japan. After completing the graduate degree in painting at Kyoto University of the Arts in 2019, he studied in Beijing until 2020. He is currently living and working at Komyo-in of Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto. Recent major exhibitions include: Golden Fight of Gods at Art Collaboration Kyoto (2023); Chimera Epidemic (2023); Midtown Award 2021; Namazu no Komyo (Ingenious/ Bright Light of Catfish) (2021); Yanbaru Art Festival (2020-2021); and Art Award Marunouchi 2019.

Akiko Takesue

Akiko Takesue

Akiko Takesue is ROM’s Bishop White Committee Associate Curator of Japanese Art & Culture. She is responsible for researching and developing ROM’s collection of Japanese art and culture, numbering approximately 10,000 objects and ranging in date from the archaeology of the Jōmon period (10,000–300 BCE) to the present day.

Dr. Takesue received her Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Culture from York University, Toronto.  She has broad curatorial experience in museums in Australia, Canada, and the U.S., from researching the Japanese collections to curating permanent galleries and special exhibitions of Japanese art. Most recently, she was a co-curator for the exhibition Obsession: Sir William Van Horne’s Japanese Ceramics, held at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) from 2018 to 2020. She is currently building and planning a vision for the new Prince Takamado Gallery of Japan at ROM.

Event captured on February 29, 2024.