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The Art Gallery of South Australia today announces Samurai, an exhibition featuring over 100 works of art from AGSA’s Japanese collection that portray the pervasive influence of the samurai in Japan from the 14th to 20th centuries.

Russell Kelty, Curator, Samurai and Associate Curator, Asian Art at AGSA, says, ‘The culture and identity of the samurai are often understood in one particular context: as ferocious and loyal warriors who lived by a strict moral code.’ Kelty continues, ‘Samurai seeks to redress this by presenting the complexities of their cultural influence and their transformation into a global phenomenon.’ The expansive display of textiles, lacquer, ceramics, metalware, screens, scrolls, prints and swords, will open from Friday 24 July and highlight exemplary works from AGSA’s collection, some of which will be on display for the first time.

Their patronage of the arts and cultural pursuits remain inextricably woven into the fabric of Japanese art and society.

Samurai – meaning ‘to serve’ – originally referred to regional warriors tasked with guarding the provincial estates of the aristocracy based in Kyoto. Their ascension marked a distinct transition in Japan and for over 600 years the samurai class ruled the archipelago. Their patronage of the arts and cultural pursuits remain inextricably woven into the fabric of Japanese art and society.

AGSA Director Rhana Devenport ONZM, says, ‘This exhibition honours the prevailing cultural impact of the samurai as both masters of art and war and heralds AGSA’s longstanding commitment to representing the fertile and influential cultural histories of Japanese art.’

An online resource titled Samurai envisioned: warrior, culture, commodity will accompany the exhibition, supported by The Japan Foundation, and will be made available on the AGSA website here. Russell Kelty, Associate Curator, Asian Art, will be presenting an online talk on Tuesday 28 July, to introduce Samurai.

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