(photo by Jonel Jugueta)
Associate Professor, Art History Area Chair
Office Room 221 / 808.956.8033 /
RESEARCH AREAS - History of Japan’s Modern Art; Intersections of Japanese Artistic Identity, National Heritage, and Received Tradition; Aesthetics and Ideology

John Szostak’s primary research focus is on modern Japanese art history, especially Nihonga, or neotraditional painting. He did his PhD research as a Fulbright fellow at Kyoto University, where he studied Kyoto-based Nihonga painters and their professional networks in the early 20th century. His academic work has been funded by the Japan Studies Endowment (UH-Manoa), the University Research Council (UH-Manoa), and the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies; in 2010 he was selected as a Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow, funding one-year of post-doctoral research at the University of London (SOAS). Generally speaking, Szostak’s research investigates the intersection of artistic identity, national heritage, and received cultural tradition in modern Japan, with special attention paid to both the technical and ideological aspects of neotraditional Japanese painting. In 2013 he published a book on Kyoto painter Tsuchida Bakusen (1887-1936), and he has contributed essays to several edited volumes, international exhibition catalogues, and academic journals. His ongoing research includes a translation project entitled “Japanese Modern Art Sources and Documents (1860s-1940s),” and a study of modernist Japanese Buddhist painting. He is also curating an exhibition on the theme of historicism and tradition in contemporary Japanese art, scheduled to open in the UH Manoa University Art Gallery in fall 2016.

PhD – University of Washington
MA – University of Washington
BA – Colgate University

Painting Circles: Tsuchida Bakusen and Nihonga Collectives in Early Twentieth Century Japan. Brill: 2013
• “‛Art is Something Born’: The Rise and Fall of the Kokuga Society (1918-1928 and the Emergence of the Kokuten Style.” Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, vol. 21, no. 2 (Spring 2013).
• “Unexpected Pairings: Neo-Rinpa Paintings by Yamaguchi Ai and Yamamoto Taro.” Chapter in Kamisaka Sekka: Dawn of Modern Japanese Design (Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2012).
• “Re-Envisioning Beauty: Female Portraiture in Modern Japanese Prints and Painting.” Essay in The Beauty of the Moment: Women in Japanese Woodblock Prints. Zurich: Museum Rietberg, 2012.
• “Foul is Fair: Abject Beauties and the Psychology of the Grotesque in Modern Japanese Painting,” chapter in Rethinking Japanese Modernism. Global Oriental: 2011.
• “Takeuchi Seihō, Chigusa Sōun and John Ruskin’s Modern Painters: Reconciling Realism with Japanese Painting 1900-1910.” Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration and Convergence, Proceedings of the 32nd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art (CIHA), 2009.
• “Two Paths to the Pure Land: The Niga-byakudō Theme and the Modernist Buddhist Art of Hada Teruo,” Archives of Asian Art, vol. 57 (2007).
• “Ukiyo-e Tabloids: Illustrations of the Taiwan Expedition of 1874” in Impressions: The Journal of Ukiyo-e Society of America, no. 21 (1999).

ART 176 (Global Art History Survey II: 15th Century to Contemporary Period)
ART 380 (Early Art of Japan: Buddhist Art and Visual Culture)
ART 381 (Later Art of Japan: Rising Japanese Modernity)
ART 395 (Art-Historical Methodology)
ART 400 A (Special Projects: Buddhist Art Forms and Concepts)
ART 400 B (Special Projects: Issues in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Art)
ART 400 C (Special Projects: Japanese Woodblock Prints)
ART 483 (Applied Arts of Japan: Aesthetics, Craft, and Ideology)
ART 496 (Topics in the History of Cinema)
past topics taught include “Genres of Japanese Film,” “Auteurs of Japanese Cinema,” and “Experimental Japanese Cinema”
ART 781 (Seminar in Japanese Art )
past seminar topics include “Modern Japanese Visual Culture” (2006, 2012) “Japanese Painting in an International Context” (2007)
“The Mingei Movement: Japanese Folk Art as Transnational Phenomenon” (2008)
“Japanese Woodblock Prints: Historical, Visual and Literary Contexts” (2009)