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Elevating Tradition

For Immediate Release:

Japan’s Culture in the Contemporary World

The Fine Artist behind Lady Gaga’s Heel-less Shoes

(Portland, Ore.)

Photo courtesy of Noritaka Tatehana

Portland Japanese Garden, with its newly debuted Cultural Crossing expansion – designed by world renowned architect Kengo Kuma – is bringing yet another distinguished name to Portland for his first-ever solo exhibition in the United States.

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Fine artist Noritaka Tatehana will be showcasing his internationally renowned works in Noritaka Tatehana: Refashioning Beauty at Portland Japanese Garden from October 5 – December 1.

Refashioning Beauty showcases some of Tatehana’s most established pieces including the ‘heel-less shoes’ worn by Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness as well as pieces based on the ‘scents’ of Japanese culture. His many works are a result of his creative activities within the sphere of various traditional crafts spanning across Japan. All of his pieces are made from carefully selected materials and physical labor.

“I am concerned about the preservation of traditional Japanese craft and culture; the succession of critical skills and techniques that are handed down from generation to generation. But I am not working to revive obsolete craft items that we no longer use,” said Tatehana.

Tatehana says, contemporary expression is different from traditional expression.

“In some cases, keeping things as they are – simply prolongs their demise. I believe artists can bring revolution in Japanese traditional culture through artistic expressions if we embrace our modern time while encompassing the context and flow of past, present, and future,” he adds.

Photo courtesy of Noritaka Tatehana

Noritaka Tatehana: Refashioning Beauty covers not just Tatehana’s “heel-less shoes;” but acrylic paintings, lacquer  sculptures; and wooden platform clogs reminiscent of those worn by Oiran (high-ranking Japanese courtesans) of the Edo period (1615-1868). Oiran culture is the inspirational source of many of the works Tatehana creates. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Portland Japanese Garden is thrilled to showcase Tatehana’s creations for his first ever solo exhibition in the United States.

“I think Portland Japanese Garden is a fresh rendition, thriving in the habitat of the Pacific Northwest. It is a work of art. It is a way of re-envisioning Japanese culture. It is a reflection of Japan, providing a new stage for a long-held cultural tradition,” added Tatehana.

Through this exhibition, viewers can travel along the famed fine artist’s creative process by going back and forth from the past and present of Japanese culture, in a similar way that the artist reflected upon his own roots.

Portland Japanese Garden is a nonprofit organization located within Washington Park in Portland, Oregon. Originally founded in 1963 as a place for cross-cultural understanding following World War II, it has become a global destination for Japanese art, nature, and peace. It is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan and the foremost Japanese cultural organization in North America.