Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948 and moved to the U.S.A. in 1970. He has been living in NYC since 1974. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s signature practice spans the mediums of photography, sculpture, installation, architecture, and performing arts. His art deals with history and temporal existence through a variety of subject matters. He explores issues surrounding time, empiricism, and metaphysics that bridge Eastern and Western ideologies while examining the nature of perception and the origins of consciousness. In 2008, he founded the New Material Research Laboratory, an architectural design office, and in 2009 he established the Odawara Art Foundation. In 2015, when Sugimoto was photographing Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, he encountered the fresco of Four Japanese Boys attending the opening reception of the theater in 1585; he immediately realized that these boys were the Tenshō Embassy. The encounter with the Tensho Embassy’s legacy inspired Sugimoto to realize the Quattro Ragazzi series.
ASRN Financial Manager & Cultural Institution Liaison
Gen Aihara is the general manager at Hiroshi Sugimoto studio in NY as well as one of the core members of ASRN since its launch. He has been working with Hiroshi Sugimoto since 1999. He traveled with Sugimoto photographing Quattro Ragazzi and Opera House among other series. Gen organized the touring exhibition, Gates of Paradise, Japan Society, NY and MOA Museum of Art, Atami 2017 and Quatro Ragazzi: Hopes and Illusions of the Momoyama Renaissance - Europe through the Eyes of Hiroshi Sugimoto and the Tensho Embassy, Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum 2018 in which he organized a symposium for ASRN. Gen has conducted two crowd-funding drives for ASRN in 2018 and 2019. Gen was born in Shiga prefecture, Japan, then he moved to US and received his MFA from SUNY-Purchase in 1999. He is an active artist. Gen’s artworks are in numerous public collections including MFA Houston, Jean Pigozzi Collection, Milwaukee Art Museum, and Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts among others.
Paola Cavaliere, Ph.D.
ASRN Japan-Italy Institutional Coordinator
Paola Cavaliere is Associate Professor of Japanese Studies and Director of the Human Sciences Undergraduate Degree Program at Osaka University, School of Human Sciences. Born in Vicenza (Italy) and inspired by the fresco of the Four Japanese Boys attending a lecture at the Teatro Olimpico, Paola pursued a degree in Japanese Language and Literature at the University of Venice. Later she obtained a double Ph.D. degree in East Asian Studies (University of Sheffield, UK) and Law (Tohoku University, Japan). In 2004 she initiated the Azuchi Castle Folding Screen research project and conducted a three-year investigation on primary and secondary sources in the Vatican, Italy, and Japan. Her activities led to the discovery of the drawings of Itō Mancho and of Father Mesquita (dated 1585) now at the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture. Her findings are published in the article Azuchijō no zu byōbu: The Azuchi Castle Folding Screen (2008). She is a founding member of the ASRN (Azuchi Screens Research Network) established in 2017, and supervises its core research activities.
Mark K Erdmann, Ph.D.
ASRN Japan Art & Architecture Specialist
Mark K Erdmann is a Lecturer in Art History in the School of Culture and Communications at the University of Melbourne. Erdmann specializes in Japanese pre-modern architecture, particularly of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, and the intersection of space, painting, carpentry, and power. His research focuses on castles, warrior elite residences, palaces, as well as the Jesuit mission in Japan and their impact on visual culture. He has published on Nanban art and has two forthcoming articles on the Azuchi Screens: "Nebuchadnezzar’s Draw: Revisiting Philips van Winghe’s Sketches of Azuchi Castle in Lorenzo Pignoria’s Images of the Gods and Ancients" & "Reimagining the Lost Azuchi Screen Paintings." He is currently working on a monograph on Azuchi Castle titled Performing Hegemony: Oda Nobunaga and the Azuchi Castle Tenshu 1576-1582 for publication in early 2025. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2016 and Masters from the University of London in 2001. He is a founding member of ASRN and supervises research activities in Rome.
Anton Schweizer, Ph.D.
ASRN Japan Art & Architecture Specialist
Anton Schweizer is a professor of art and architectural history at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. He specializes in Japan’s early modern period and works on objects (mostly lacquer, metal, and textiles), architectural decoration and interiors, and the representation of the material world in various pictorial genres. His research interests also include the issues of diplomatic gifts, political iconography, historiography of art, connoisseurship, critical theory, technique and materiality, and the representation of social identity and marginalized groups. He presently works on exchanges of material and visual cultures between East Asia, Europe, and the Americas in the First Global Age (1550-1800); pictorial imagination of the Other including collections of wonders (Kunst- und Wunderkammern), “chinoiserie” in Europe and “ikoku shumi” in Japan. Anton Schweizer received his Ph.D. from Heidelberg University and has taught at universities in Germany (Heidelberg), the US (New York University, Tulane), and Japan (Kyushu University).
Kiyono Shimbo, Ph.D.
ASRN Japan Institutional Coordinator
Kiyono Shimbo is a lecturer in Western art history at Musashi, Meiji, and Rikkyo universities in Tokyo, along with cooperation with the architecture magazine Casabella Japan as a main translator since 2008. Shimbo received her doctorate from Chiba University, Japan in 2001, with her doctoral thesis on procession banners with marian imagery during the pestilence crisis in 17th-century Rome. In 2001-2004, she studied at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" proceeding historical research on the visual culture of Roman Baroque as a Postdoctoral Fellow for JSPS Research Abroad. After conducting the archival research for Azuchi folding screens with Midori Wakakuwa and Paola Cavaliere in 2007, Shimbo has been involved in ASRN since its launch and mainly in charge of publicizing its activities for Japanese local audiences by providing lectures and seminars in close collaboration with Ōmi-Hachiman City and Shiga Prefecture. A paper summarizing ASRN activities entitled “Azuchiyamazu byōbu no Yukue (Whereabouts of Azuchi Folding Screens)” is in preparation for publication.
Éliane Roux, Ph.D.
ASRN Lead Researcher
Éliane Roux is a researcher in early modern cultural and art history, and a specialist of 16th-17th century archives affiliated with the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her work focuses both on cultural and material interactions with East Asia, especially between Italy and Japan, and the impact of 16th-17th-century Genoese networks in transnational artistic and cultural exchange. Her study interests include the reception and re-elaboration of the Far East in Rome and the contribution of the networks of humanists, antiquaries, and religious communities to the spread of knowledge on the “New World.” Her scholarly research is rooted in locating and analyzing primary sources in European languages. She received her doctorate from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne) and the University of Rome III in 2013 and holds a diploma in archive sciences from the Vatican School of Paleography, Diplomatics and Archive sciences from 2005 as well as a Masters from the University of Montreal from 2004. She was a lecturer at the University of Genoa, Italy, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently concluding a book from her Ph.D. thesis, Cardinal Giacomo Serra (1572 ca.-1623) and his Circle, and working on a project entitled Japan’s “Christian Century” in the Center of Christianity: Proto-Orientalism and Far Eastern Art and Culture in Rome (1549-1650), which is also the topic of her residence as 2023-24 Ahmanson Fellow at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. She has been the senior, then lead researcher in Europe of the Azuchi Screens Research Network since 2018.