“Masks’, Romanian, Japanese photo exhibition

On Saturday, the Romanian Peasant’s Museum’s Foyer Hall hosted the opening of the double itinerant photography exhibition “Masti” (Masks). A manifestation associated with the “SoNoRo” International Chamber Music Festival, the event offers the chance of an encounter with artist-photographers Hisroshi Watanabe (Los Angeles) and Dragos Lumpan (Bucharest), while allowing for a visual experiment on the theme of this year’s edition: “Un Ballo in Maschera”. The project proposed by Dragos Lumpan, “Ursi si alte masti” (Bears and Other Masks), acquaints the onlooker with New Year traditions in contemporary Romania. The photographic discourse aims at taking these customs out of the context of pseudo-folklore, approaching them through the lens of a more accurate reception.

“The New Year customs which include bear figures and other masks are ancient – going back, most certainly, to pre-Christian times. These customs endure in certain parts of Romania, particularly in Moldavia and Bukovina. Along the millennia, a shift of stress occurred: from the apotropaic and mimetic function (given the context in which they appeared), nowadays’ New Year rituals moved towards the celebratory dimension of existence.” – Dragos Lumpan.

Dragos Lumpan graduated, in 2001, from the Film Department of the Theatrical and Cinematographic Art Academy in Bucharest, and, in 1999, from the Faculty of Orthodox Theology. Since 1996, he has had several photography exhibitions, winning a host of special awards in recognition of his photographic achievements.

The exhibition signed by Hiroshi Watanabe is meant as a reflection of/on the masks peculiar to the traditional Japanese Noh drama. In this type of theatrical performance, actors wear masks representing various symbolic repertoires, which wear generic names and are meant to reflect the character or the status of the figure they embody. The rarest and most valuable masks are found in the private collections of Noh drama schools and one is privileged to see them. Hiroshi Watanabe’s photographs focus on the masks of a prestigious Noh drama school, that of the Naito clan. These masks stand out not only on account of their age, but also bear the imprint of unique craftsmanship. Hiroshi Watanabe graduated in 1975 from the Photography Department of the College of Art, Nihon University. He won several prestigious awards and his works were included in the permanent collections of museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts or the George Eastman House. The exhibition “Masti” can be seen at the Romanian Peasant’s Museum, the Foyer Hall, between October 31 and November 9, Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm.

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