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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Japanese Art, Corfu, Museum of Asian Art: Ukiyo-e, 浮世絵, Pictures of the Floating (Moving) World

An excellent collection, our Japanese guests were delighted!

Some fine examples of coloured (polychrome) woodblock prints and paintings


Ukiyo-e, Pictures of the Floating World (Moving World)

"Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), the Japanese artist whose views of Mt Fuji such as The Great Wave off Kanagawa (pictured) are some of the most iconic in world art. He worked as Japan was slowly moving towards greater contact with the outside world, trading with China and allowing two Dutch ships to dock each year. From these ships he picked up new synthetic colours and illustrations with Western compositions, which he incorporated in his traditional wood block prints. The quality of his images helped drive demand for prints among the highly literate Japanese public, particularly those required to travel to Edo under feudal obligations and who wanted to collect all his prints. As well as the quality of his work, Hokusai's success stems partly from his long life and career. He completed some of his most memorable works in his 70s and 80s and claimed he would not reach his best until he was 110".

"The Essence of Grace"

"The man who gave the Japanese coloured woodcut its name called himself Ukiyo Matabei. It was he who founded the Ukiyo-e school of painting. The masters of the woodcut who followed his lead in painting the moving world never concerned themselves with pure fantasy, but painted the contemporary world. The ageless quality of their work is part of the fundamental secret of all great art, which is to rob the moment of its impermanence...The masters of Japanese wood-engraving did not copy nature. They went on mentally collecting pictures until they had a clear perception and exact idea of them and could finally paint the essence of their subject." The Living Past, Ivar Lissner.

Some additional images of my own:

Photo: JP

Furuike ya 
kawazu tobikomu 
mizu no oto

For the photo of a bullfrog in a pond:
See Why Thoreau's Walden Still Inspires
National Geographic (third photo down)

Photo: JP

This photo reminds me of the haiku by Kobayashi Issa,
"The Buddha on the moor" - even though
there is no icicle hanging from the end of his nose!

nobotoke no
 hana no saki kara
 tsurara kana

A hoe standing there;
No-one to be seen,-
The heat!

Masaoka Shiki
from "Haiku", Selected and Edited by Peter Washington,
Everyman, 2003

A mountain village
under the piled-up snow
the sound of water

Masaoka Shiki,

from "Haiku" (ibid)

See also:

Postcards from 19th Century Japan, 1843 Magazine

A present from Kyoko and Yoshinori, from back in 1990:

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