Reading Week is almost over and I’ve spent the last few days researching for my printmaking project. We have to find a printmaker and do a five minute presentation. This research took me a little longer than I had anticipated only because there were so many great Japanese printmakers that it was hard to pick one. I finally made my choice and it’s Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), who is considered one of the great printmakers in history, and one of the leaders in the ukiyo-e genre. Ukiyo-e means “pictures of the floating world” which depicted beautiful women, historic tales, warriors, flora and fauna, and erotica.
Kuniyoshi covered a lot of themes in his artwork, ranging from kabuki actors, beautiful women (bijinga) and landscapes, but he was best known for his warrior-themed diptych and triptychs based on Chinese and Japanese folklores and tales.
I liked that he was attracted to various subjects and experimented with his style. You can see this in his landscape print, The Strong Woman, Okane, from Omi Province, which was influenced by Western art styles like chiaroscuro. I like that he took risks and tackled satirical themes and comic portraits of people who’s face make up of body parts. It shows that he had a sense of humour so I appreciate that.