Under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, a worldwide premiere of Alphonse Mucha’s artwork in digital form is coming to Japan. From 14 July to 30 September this year, the Czech Republic will present iMUCHA, a stunning immersive exhibition which brings a modern take on the Czech and international Art Nouveau master, Alphonse Mucha. The event will be held this summer in one of Japan’s most popular international conference centres, the Yokohama Pacifico.
“I consider iMUCHA Multimedia Experiences to be a project of very high quality, which gives a contemporary dimension to the masterpiece of Czech Art Nouveau and, thanks to the processing by means of cutting-edge technologies, brings the work and life of Alphonse Mucha closer to the current generation. I am therefore very happy to support this event,” says the Minister of Culture, Mr. Martin Baxa, adding that he also sees the project as a good opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations between the Czech Republic and Japan. Furthermore, the project is perceived as one of the priority cultural undertakings in the interest of deepening Czech-Japanese relations by a variety of public figures along with the Czech President, Mr Miloš Zeman.
Patronage of the President of the Czech Republic
As the Czech state has a strong interest in the exhibition, the President of the Czech Republic, Mr Miloš Zeman, also supported the exhibition with his patronage:”I am very pleased with the relations between the Czech Republic and Japan, which have long been at a friendly level. I believe that they have contributed greatly to the fact that Japan has long been one of the Czech Republic’s important partners. I am convinced that the launch of iMUCHA Multimedia Experiences will become one of the next points that will connect the two countries in an appropriate way,” said the President Miloš Zeman.
Japan as iMUCHA world’s premiere country
For the first time in the world, the work of Alphonse Mucha is presented in the form of top-quality large-screen projections. Visitors are surrounded by a 360° effect, as if they were in the story itself. Alphonse Mucha’s work is placed in a 3D space and viewers find themselves in contemporary Paris, New York or a dreamy Art Nouveau garden. The posters of Alphonse Mucha from the most comprehensive collection of his original works, owned by the Richard Fuxa Foundation, which provides donations to the Czech art scene, were used for the digitisation. The partner of the Czech project in Japan is Sony Music Solutions.
The life and work of Alphonse Mucha is transformed into an immersive and stunning show, during which viewers are given a tour through the most important periods and major milestones of Mucha’s work – from the fateful meeting with Sarah Bernhardt, through his times in Paris and America, to his work in Bohemia, be it at St. Vitus Cathedral or his monumental Slav Epic. Visitors also find themselves in the master’s study, while the magnificent projection also includes an educational section with information about the great Czech Art Nouveau artist.
Historical connection of Czech and Japanese art
The work of Alphonse Mucha is not only well known and popular in Japan, but it is also closely connected to it. The ornamental patterns of stylised flowers, plants, and wavy strands of hair, which appeared on Mucha’s posters, were inspired by Japanese katagami paper stencils, which became part of French art.
These natural stylised fragments are considered clear signs of Japanese culture in Mucha’s work. Mucha thus significantly influenced the Western Art Nouveau style, which subsequently found its way back to Japan and there continues to this day. The most prominent examples of this are the symbols of modern Japanese culture, manga. Japanese comics artists have been inspired by Mucha’s work since the 1970s.
Probably the Japanese women’s creative group CLAMP was the most inspired one by Mucha. RG Veda, X and Rayearth use art nouveau frames and compositions in Mucha’s style in most of their illustrations. Kosuke Fujishima was also inspired by Mucha for his illustrations Ah My Goddess!, where his heroines wear dresses with many folds and their long curly hairstyles rival those of Mucha’s female characters.
The timing of the start of the exhibition in Yokohama is not accidental. It is on 14 July this year that the 83rd anniversary of the death of Alphonse Mucha will be observed. The Czech Republic sees the beginning of the exhibition as a tribute to the Art Nouveau master.