I was at The Phillips Collection last weekend to visit the new Braque exhibition, and I stepped into the café for a very tasty espresso. There I encountered this work filling the walls of the little coffee shop, One Day After the Rain (2010) by Sandra Cinto, A Brazilian artist.
Immediately, I noticed the influence of Japonisme, the Japanese style often characterized by fine lines that depict the ferocity and grandeur of nature. Indeed, this picture would make anyone sitting in the café feel as if they were floating away!
I was immediately reminded of a picture I encountered from an exhibition in Boston College called Portugal, Jesuits, and Japan: Spiritual Beliefs and Earthly Goods. The pictures reflect Japanese impressions of Portuguese sailors in the Descobrimentos, or the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The pictures display a Japanese fascination with Portuguese vessels. As a sea-faring people, they must have been inspired by Portuguese ingenuity. This work is a trade screen (1600-50) at McMullen Museum of Art in Boston.
It seems that this artistic brokering was not one-sided, as the Brazilian artists’ work in the Phillips Collection seems to display. In fact, much of her work carries this Japanese style, even making reference to it in a public art piece in SESC, São Paulo, a public center for health, art and education. This work, entitled Sky and Sea to Present [Japonisme] (Silk on Tile), employs Japanese lines and grandeur, with that ever-present obsession with the sea.