This year marks 100 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Latvia and Japan. In 1921, Japan was among the five countries that decided on Latvia's recognition de iure. On April 6, an exhibition of the Latvian photo artist Andris Zēgners “Secrets of Amber” was opened for this event in Tokyo, Bunkyo University. Latvia's ambassador to Japan Dace Treija-Masī said that the exhibition is a beautiful symbol for cooperation between the two countries and, at the same time, reveals a new dimension of Latvia for the Japanese.
Bunkyo University in Tokyo is among the world's 200 most prestigious universities. For a week, Andris Zēgners' large-format photographs have been showcased in its windows, dedicated to one of Latvia's symbols – amber.
Dace Treija-Masī told Latvian Radio: “It is really a pleasure that Mr Zēgners' exhibition has been organized and that this year we have succeeded in celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Latvian-Japanese friendship. It is a pleasure that people are already calling the embassy, interested in amber, about Latvia, about the possibilities of traveling to Latvia after the pandemic.”
“I personally always associate amber with sun, warmth, and home. These photographs emit enormous power and energy, but at the same time also warmth and peace. Looking at these photographs, I feel the presence of Latvia in Japan, and these are very warm feelings,” said the ambassador.
Photographer Andris Zēgners said: “I feel it that they not only look at nature, but they see nature. Unlike many other nations of the world, they are much closer to this authentic sense of nature and perception. I think that the joy of this vision, the pleasure of meeting with the full beginning of nature, the rooting and understanding of the first elements are the result of these amber pieces.”
Japan's visual culture has particularly influenced European art for the last two centuries. Andris Zēgners admits that he was greatly impressed by Japanese masters-geniuses such as Hokusai and Hiroshige with their sense of visuality, image-building and nuances.
According to the ambassador, the Japanese appreciate things that require a great deal of care, talent and tradition, so those who are interested in Latvia are excited about the Song Festival, crafts, design, rye bread. The Latvian Embassy in Japan also takes note of this, and before the pandemic, knitting lessons and Latvian language classes took place, which have now moved into a virtual environment. The ambassador said that with the transition to remote learning, providing more opportunities to engage, the number of Latvian language learners has increased. The majority of Latvian learners are people who have visited Latvia, or whose friends have been in Latvia, who have an interest the Latvian culture.
Andris Zēgners' exhibition in Tokyo, Bunkyo University, will be held until April 26.