Hokusai‘s Encyclopaedic Manga Project
This 15-volume work was a way for the artist to confirm his legacy and where he would explain his theory of art.
Hokusai, ‘Sumo Wrestlers’
Hokusai is one of Japan’s most iconic exports. His woodblock print series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, containing the emblematic The Great Wave off Kanagawa (c.1829-33), is the image most will associate with his work. Born in 1760, Hokusai saw success as an artist in the early 1800s following the completion of a 240 m2 painting during an arts festival in Edo.
At the age of 55, in 1814, he began another artistic activity that would provide both financial stability for the artist as well as widespread success among the public. For over 60 years, he published sprawling manga across 15 volumes, each of which contained 60 small leaflets.
Unlike the manga produced today with linear narrative storyboards, these works were truer to the original translation of the word, meaning curious or whimsical drawings. Block-printed in black, grey, and pink, the images are catalogued page by page according to a theme. The result is a far-reaching encyclopaedic snapshot of a moment in time.
Thousands of images depict flora and fauna, infrastructure, the supernatural and spirits, martial arts techniques, and scenes from everyday life; some art historians consider that the prolific nature of Hokusai’s production is thanks to the help of students. It is also within these manga, in volume one specifically, that Hokusai details his own personal theory of art, illustrated by 300 spontaneous drawings. Other theories suggest that the works were in part intended to be used as painting manuals, with the drawings becoming popular as models for reproduction.
Today Hokusai is best known for his woodblock prints, especially the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, with prints on view everywhere, from the British Museum to the Met Museum in New York. It is in these exhaustive volumes, however, that we can see the first sparks of his more celebrated works.
The Taboo-Breaking Erotica of Toshio Saeki
The master of the 1970s Japanese avant-garde reimagined his most iconic artworks for a limited box set with silkscreen artist Fumie Taniyama.
When Ronin de Goede Met the Yakuza's Tattoo Artist
The series of photographs 'Asakusa' plunges the audience into the world of Japanese tattoo art and its links with the criminal universe.
Kanso, One of the Seven Pillars of Wabi-Sabi
Meaning simplicity or purity, this principle from zen philosophy encourages the elimination of clutter.
When Eroticism Amounts to Total (or Turtle?) Torture
Kurama's photographic work pushes the boundaries, those of the pursuit of eroticism, particularly in 'Kame san – Turtle'.
‘Wa’, a Model of Harmony from Japan to Mexico
In the series サ和ロ (saWAro), photographer Taeko Nomiya connects her two cultures, driven by the same philosophy.