Japanese Kabuki Art Blossoms at AGGV

Springtime in Victoria is reminiscent of another city on a beautiful, large Pacific Ocean island—Tokyo. The cities both seemingly wake from winter with the blooming of Japanese cherry blossoms, and this spring the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) will bring a little more of Tokyo to Victoria.

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Utagawa Kunisada III (1848 – 1920) | A Kabuki theatre

From March 26 to June 15, the AGGV presents Kabuki: Japan’s Dynamic Theatre in Prints, an exhibition celebrating Kabuki theatre, the classical dance-drama that originated in Tokyo in the 17th century. The exhibit features more than forty 19th and 20th century portraits of actors from the Gallery’s extensive collection, including works by masters of the Japanese wood print and painting art form, ukiyo-e.

Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers. It became a common form of entertainment in the registered red-light district in old Tokyo. A crowd of various social classes gathered under one roof for the performances, something that happened nowhere else in the city. The Kabuki stage provided exciting entertainment with new music and dance performed by famous (all male) actors.

The AGGV is teaming with Pacific Opera Victoria (POV) to kick off the exhibition and welcome spring with an evening of opera, art and cocktails on Friday, March 27 from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The party will feature performances by singers from POV’s upcoming production of Madama Butterfly, as well as a Curator’s Tour of Kabuki. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at the AGGV or online.