at the West Vancouver Museum
January 9 - March 22, 2014
and Nikkei National Museum
January 11 - March 23, 2014
Thanks to the generosity of collector Inagaki Shin'ichi of Tokyo, this spring local Vancouver-area audiences are getting a rare opportunity to view a selection of humorous, playful, dramatic, and cryptic prints that challenge our preconceptions of Ukiyo-e as a genre.
The two venues combined present a total of more than 100 woodblock prints from the late Edo and Meiji periods, including more than thirty prints by the increasingly popular Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
The exhibition also includes several prints by the world-famous Utagawa Hiroshige, but don't go expecting to see his lyrical landscape scenes of stations along the Tōkaidō Road. Instead, his playful designs of hands and figures in poses that appear as something entirely different when reflected as shadows against shoji paper demonstrate a totally different level of connection he and other wildly popular artists of his time were able to make with the Edo public, who were their audience and avid consumers.
Through a number of recent publications--Edo no asobi-e (Play pictures from Edo), Kuniyoshi no musha-e (Warrior prints by Kuniyoshi), Kuniyoshi no kyōga (Comical prints by Kuniyoshi) and others—Inagaki-san has been working to introduce contemporary audiences to the full range of pleasures such lesser-known Ukiyo-e prints of the mid- to late Edo and Meiji periods afforded to the people of their own times.
The prints themselves are also in superb condition, the vibrant colours and sharp impressions allowing for an even greater sense of affinity with the experience of the prints' original audience.
We are fortunate to have this collection here and I hope that the exhibition will reach a broad and diverse audience, being shared by these two intimate venues on opposite sides of the city.