fair to say the alphonse mucha exhibition at the tokyo arts centre was one of the best exhibitions ive ever seen. celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between japan and czech republic, this was the first time the slav epic was shown all ensembled and outside of the CR. as with many nation-states, czech-japanese relations broke down during the second world war. they were resumed in 1957 and since have enjoyed good political, economic and cultural relations. in 1993, when the czech republic declared independence and japan responded as one of the first to grant diplomatic recognition.
cultural exchanges are important as they enrich and deepen ties between two nations. for one, this exhibition celebrates czech culture but just as important, it allows japanese people to relate their own experiences to czech history and mythology. the slavic epic unequivocally encapsulates a whole disarray of emotions which are tied to the czech national narrative but have also transcend it. for example, the first cycle embodies feelings of fear and vulnerability which are ubiquitous in any war. this particular piece is centred around the slavic people but feelings are not exclusive to a singular culture. therefore, the slavic epic is likely to provoke strong sentiment within any onlooker.
i knew i had to see the exhibition and luckily one of my best friends who shares a love for alphonse mucha was visiting. we waited in a three hour queue and savoured every moment of it when we got into the hall. 20 paintings were hung, up to 6 meters tall and 8 meters wide, beautifully illustrating a celebration of slavic history.