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Golden Screens at the National Gallery of Victoria

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On view through 9 September 2007

The exhibition Golden Screens will present Japanese screens, dated from the 17th to the 19th century, from the Asian collection. The golden screens evoke the sensuous beauty of brilliantly coloured flowers and birds, painted against a glistening background of gold paper. We will explore the aesthetic and stylistic aspects of the paintings, the structure and function of the Japanese free-standing folding screen, and the traditional Japanese house and garden.


Screens have developed as an indispensable element of Japanese architecture and an integral part of Japanese life. In traditional Japanese houses, beautifully painted screens were used not merely as decorations, but primarily as partitions or enclosures within interiors.

A traditional Japanese house is made of wood and paper and provides good ventilation. The essential structure is of wood. It is suitable to Japan's humid summers and resilient to earthquakes.

The screens serving as sliding partitions are called either fusuma (a solid paper partition on a wooden frame), or shoji (a paper-windowed partition on a wooden frame). They serve as sliding doors as well as room dividers. The rooms are multi-functional and one big room is created by removing the shoji or fusuma partitions.
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