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Japanese Art: Before and After Hirosada


Before and After Hirosada  By toshidama There is a clear division in the design and the feel of Osaka prints that occurs at around 1840. This is in part due to the hiatus caused by the notorious attempts by the failing Japanese administration to censor the arts – particularly the theatre – as part of a […]

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Hair of the Dog… Japanese Hairstyling in History (Japanese Art)


Hair of the Dog… Japanese Hairstyling in History By toshidama Here is a really great Japanese woodblock print… it depicts an actor playing the role of Moriguchi Kuro, a hero from the great Japanese novel Hakkenden inu no soshi no uchi  (The Story of the Eight Dog Heroes). Everything about this print shines – the dense and crashing […]

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Journeys in Japanese Prints


Journeys in Japanese Prints by toshidama The new exhibition at the Toshidama Gallery looks at Journeys, or travelling, in Japanese woodblock prints. Perhaps more than most art forms, the Japanese print, being at heart populist, reflects the attitudes, pastimes and concerns of the populace. Consequently, given that travel was more or less proscribed in the medieval […]

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Yoshitoshi: His Debt to Kuniyoshi at The Toshidama Gallery


Yoshitoshi – His Debt to Kuniyoshi at The Toshidama Gallery By toshidama Posted by Alex Faulkner  The very singular work of the Japanese print artist Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839 – 1892) has its roots in the Utagawa School tradition of Japanese woodblock printmaking and its end in the hybrid Japanese culture of the late nineteenth century. His life, […]

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Japanese Art, Culture and History: Kuniyoshi to Yoshitoshi & Reviving the Warrior Class


Kuniyoshi to Yoshitoshi – Reviving the Warrior Class  By toshidama Cultures turn to mythologies for reassurance – myths define us like daydreams, they show us how we might be. In England, (where we were recently reminded of all those knights in armour at Prime Minister Thatcher’s funeral) pageant remains the drag anchor to change: nostalgia, the […]

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Roy Lichtenstein at the Tate: the Quest for Authenticity?


Roy Lichtenstein at the Tate: the Quest for Authenticity? By toshidama   The retrospective exhibition of the paintings of Roy Lichtenstein dominates the London art scene this month, with posters and billboards, plastic bags and T-shirts everywhere. Lichtenstein occupies a peculiar position in recent art history: less respected than his contemporaries Jasper Johns  and Robert Rauschenberg; and less famous […]

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Japanese Art and David Bowie: Pop goes Kabuki

David Bowie… Pop Goes Kabuki By toshidama Ukiyo-e artists have used kabuki, (traditional Japanese theatre) as subject matter for their woodblock prints more or less since its inception in the seventeenth century. David Bowie started experimenting with kabuki for his stage shows in 1973. By the time of his Aladdin Sane tour he was wearing actual kabuki costumes […]

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Japanese Art and Shunga Prints: Art or Pornography?

Japanese Shunga Prints – Art or Pornography? By toshidama It is the fashion, especially among connoisseurs, to make distinctions between erotica and pornography. However, it seems to me disingenuous to describe some images as pornographic and others as erotic when the distinction is only contextual or at least subjective. In the field of Japanese art, shunga is the […]

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Bonsai Trees in Japanese Prints: Small is Beautiful

Bonsai Trees in Japanese Prints – Small is Beautiful By toshidama I suppose that if you were to ask most people about traditional Japanese culture, they would talk about geishas and samurai, sushi, kimonos and bonsai trees. It’s likely though that few people would know much about the bonsai tree and probably would not have seen one. […]

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Gajo: Traditional Bindings for Japanese Woodblock Prints

Gajo – Traditional Bindings for Japanese Woodblock Prints By toshidama There’s a fantastic feeling that you get when you hold a perfect ukiyo print in your hands, one that has escaped the ravages of time. Edo (Tokyo) has been plagued by fires which were so frequent in the past that they were referred to as the […]

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