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Chiura Obata: Layer by Layer at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

On March 23 until September 8, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will present an in-depth look at the creation and conservation of Chiura Obata’s Horses screen.

In 2022, the Horses screen was sent for conservation treatment that revealed the object to be more than meets the eye. “When you conserve a Japanese screen, it’s usually a very boring affair,” said Luke Kelly, associate curator of collections at the UMFA. “because you… have to take apart the screen… and then the layers of paper [that] form the space for the work of art.” –Usually, those layers of paper are blank or are just accounting papers.–“But because Obata was not in Japan, he was in America, he had to make do with what he had on hand. And so those layers of paper… were actually his works of art.” The papers discovered inside of the Horses screen were his teaching notes, examples of brushstrokes, and works by his students from Chiura Obata’s gallery demonstrations and from his time as a guest lecturer at the University of California Berkeley.

In addition to the Horses screen, Layer by Layer will feature full-scale under-drawings, a selection of the practice drawings, and a short film documenting the conservation process.

More information:

IMAGE: Conservation Process Images Provided by Nishio Conservation Studio, Washington DC.