Suleiman conceived the idea for Kabukimono in 2019, after specialising in the study of Japanese theatre at Goldsmiths and travelling to Tokyo, Kyoto and Paris to see kabuki performed live. Kabukimono is an ongoing series of 'art happenings' that evoke the spirit and splendour of kabuki, while celebrating the significance of iconic clubs and cabarets in modern art for the incubation of new radical artistic ideas and collaboration among pioneering artists. Avant-garde artists from David Bowie to Natalia Goncharova, Aubrey Beardsley, the New Romantic artists in Britain, the Expressionist Die Brücke group as well as Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt all sought inspiration and solace in kabuki.
Kabukimono III coincided with the Opening Day of the Royal Academy's Kyōsai exhibition and featured Suleiman's latest play, The Picture Book. Nicknamed ‘Demon of Painting’ because of his superabundance of application and talent, the nineteenth-century master artist, Kawanabe Kyōsai became the central focus of Suleiman's piece which explored the 'shogakai' or 'art gatherings' which he loved participating in. Establishing himself as an independent artist in 1854 at the aage of 23, The Picture Book also explored how his, Kyōsai's career, until his death in 1889, spanned this extraordinary time of crisis, confusion, and of breathtaking changes in thought, technology and institutions in Japan, that not been witnessed since the wholesale adoption of Chinese Tang culture in the seventh and eight centuries.
Kabukimono II featured Kabuki on the Flower Path, a play by Suleiman Suleiman. This theatrical presentation took the audience on a journey through four seasons and four cities - Paris, London, Tokyo and Kyoto - in the search for a more refined understanding of this magnificent artform that so fascinates the writer. On the way he encounters great artistic personalities from David Bowie to Yukio Mishima, Kansai Yamamoto, and Lindsay Kemp, gaining new insight into how kabuki's exquisite beauty touched their souls and lives on in their art. After the 30-minute seated performance in the Over-Seas House’s Princess Alexandra Hall, there was a short interval for guests to enjoy drinks, before a Q&A with Suleiman about the art of kabuki. English Garden Lounging presented ambient and electronic DJ soundscapes throughout the evening until 11pm.