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Kuniyoshi’s Faithful Samurai – The Bathos of Victory


Kuniyoshi’s Faithful Samurai – The Bathos of Victory by toshidama I was struck, looking at some of the very beautiful images from Kuniyoshi’s 1847 series of the 47 Ronin, by the bathos of the figures – the tremendous sense of anticlimax that runs through so many of the prints. This was after all, the defining set […]

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Japanese Art and Ukiyo-e: Mons, Crests and Ronins


Mons, Crests and Ronins by toshidama The next exhibition at the Toshidama Gallery is devoted to the great revenge drama of Japanese culture – the Chushingura – and other folklore heroes. To anyone familiar with ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints) – the great visual art of Japan – prints of the Chushingura are instantly recognisable. The subject […]

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What’s in a Face – Burmester Curves and the Art of Osaka


What’s in a Face – Burmester Curves and the Art of Osaka By toshidama I am out of my depth here, in enquiring into the mechanics and mathematics of the common French Curve or Burmester Curve. But some observations about their relationship to the work of Osaka printmaker Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 – 1864) and how European […]

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Japanese Portraiture and the Graven Image


Japanese Portraiture and the Graven Image By toshidama I’m being a little disingenuous with the title of this piece… there’s an intended pun on gravure (from relief printing) and the idea of a graven image (something carved and to be worshipped) – the word is also used in modern Japan to describe fashion models, as ingravure idol. The current show at […]

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Now you see it, Now you Can’t… Shunga at the British Museum


Now you see it, Now you Can’t… Shunga at the British Museum by toshidama I guess that my first exposure to Japanese prints would have been in the 1970’s. At that time there was little or no interest in Japanese art in England. There was however a publishing frenzy on the subject of erotica. Coffee table books […]

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Marks and Spencer and the Landscape Tradition (Japanese Ukiyo-e)


Marks and Spencer and the Landscape Tradition by toshidama I was struck by the current billboard advertisements for retailer Marks and Spencer this week. It depicts seven successful British women dressed in M&S casual wear in front of an eighteenth century style landscape of rolling hills, coppiced woodland and enclosures, shot by celeb’ photographer Annie Leibovitz (above). […]

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A Tale of the Tengu: Yoshitoshi’s Debt to Kuniyoshi


A Tale of the Tengu – Yoshitoshi’s Debt to Kuniyoshi by toshidama Toshidama Gallery are celebrating the work of Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 – 1892) this month with a show of twenty-one of his woodblock prints. One of the best pieces in the exhibition is Ushiwaka Maru learns Martial Arts From Sojobo, King of the Tengu from 1880 (above). It seems […]

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Japanese Female Warrior in Art and Culture: Tomoe Gozen – Woman Warrior


Tomoe Gozen – Woman Warrior By toshidama   It is so easy to miss what’s going on in Japanese prints – sometimes just looking hard isn’t enough. There are two prints on this page, one is of a female warrior battling a man and the other is of a male warrior doing the same thing. Surprisingly – […]

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What to Look For in a Piece of Art: Sarah Lucas and the Mitate of an Elite


What to Look For in a Piece of Art – Sarah Lucas and the Mitate of an Elite By toshidama Art is of course a great communicator…for centuries it was the great communicator. It still is, but reading a piece of (contemporary) art these days leads to considerable discussion and anger, (judging by newspaper columns) and yet […]

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Japanese Art and Culture: Matoi – Fire Standards of Edo


Matoi – Fire Standards of Edo By toshidama   Edo (sometimes called City of Fires), was perhaps the most fire prone city in the world; there is a saying, “Fires and quarrels are the flowers of Edo, yet the greater essence is the fireman”. There were over five hundred major fires alone in the period between 1851 […]

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