Exhibition: Part 1 “What is Ukiyo-e?” at the ICN gallery

Part 1 “What is Ukiyo-e?” is the first part of a very exciting three-part series to be held at the ICN gallery in London. This is the final week of Part 1 so, if you haven’t already made it down to the ICN gallery, what are you waiting for?

"Sakata kaidomaru" by Kuniyoshi, courtesy of the ICN gallery

So, what is ukiyo-e? Back in the Edo period (1603 – 1868), when ukiyo-e became popular, these woodblock paintings were the posters of their time. Often depicting famous actors, tales from history or landscapes, these popular prints were affordable because they could be mass-produced, and so appealed to the common person.

part1 "What is Ukiyo-e?" (Japan Masters: Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Hiroshige, Sharaku, Utamaro)

“Ukiyo-e” is often translated as “floating world”, which alludes to the fact that many ukiyo-e pictures included images of geisha, kabuki and the pleasure quarters. There was even a specific name for the more erotic prints – shunga.

This exhibition at the ICN gallery includes more than 60 works – all of which are for sale. These pieces were created by different Edo-period artists such as Hokusai and Kuniyoshi who were interested in a variety of subject matters, ranging from themes of beauties, kabuki and samurai to landscapes and caricature.

part1 "What is Ukiyo-e?" (Japan Masters: Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Hiroshige, Sharaku, Utamaro)

Traditional woodcut print making is a composite art form in which the individual, specialist skills of artists, wood carvers and print makers are combined to create a delicate and beautiful work of art, with a warmth not often found in other forms of printing. These prints which are on display at the ICN gallery have been lovingly reproduced by the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints, employing the same skills, techniques and materials that were used by the original woodcut print makers of the 18th and 19th centuries.

part1 "What is Ukiyo-e?" (Japan Masters: Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Hiroshige, Sharaku, Utamaro)

As I said above, this is part one of three-part series about ukiyo-e at the ICN gallery. Look out for Part 2: “Ukiyo-e and Contemporary Japanese artists” (5 July – 1 September 2012) and Part 3: “Edo Stylish” (1 – 10 November 2012). Part 3 will be held during Asian Art in London, and there will be ukiyo-e demonstrations and workshops.

For more information about this and all future exhibitions, please visit the ICN gallery website: icn-global.com.

"Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre" by Kuniyoshi, courtesy of the ICN gallery

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