‘The long and rich heritage of printmaking in Japan is well suited to the Japanese temperament which prizes excellence, precise craftmanship, respect for materials, artistic sensitivity and an eye for composition, balance and colour.
Japanese woodblock prints of the 18th and 19th Centuries record an exotic, vibrant, colourful and highly sophisticated society. The imagery takes the viewer into a world of Kabuki plays and actors, courtesans and beautiful women, heroes of legend, historical battles, the Japanese landscape and erotica. Their highly skilled colour woodblock printing techniques and designs had an extraordinary and lasting influence on Western art and graphic design.
Japanese Prints, Ancient and Modern features works by some of the greatest Japanese artists of the past, including Katsushika Hokusai, Ohara Koson and Kawase Hasui, whose landscape images are the true and worthy successor to Hiroshige. Ohara Koson’s masterpiece ‘Egret on a snowy branch’ is being shown for the first time in Australia, alongside a collection of bird and flower prints.
The exhibition showcases three prints by Katsushika Hokusai, one of the great draftsmen of world art and the most highly regarded Japanese artist in the West, including two sheets from his masterpiece ‘100 Views of Mt. Fuji’. Also exhibited is a rare experiment by Hokusai of Western-style landscape dated 1800, incorporating his signature in a curious imitation of Western calligraphy.
The tradition of Japanese printmaking experienced a renaissance both between the World Wars and into the modern era. Japanese prints of all periods have been collected ever since Japan opened to the West in the mid-19th Century and continue to resonate with collectors, artists and audiences today.’
– David Forrest CBE, Gallery East Director, 2021
Floor talk by David Forrest CBE, Gallery East Director 6pm Friday 26 February 2021 RSVP essential for floor talk due to COVID restrictions