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SHARAKU THROUGH THE EYES OF CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE ARTISTS
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09 Apr 2008 - 18 May 2008

This exhibition is jointly presented by the Consulate-General of Japan, The Japan Foundation, and the University Museum and Art Gallery of The University of Hong Kong. It presents the personal interpretations of the art of Sharaku by contemporary Japanese graphic designers and artists. The exhibition features about 80 artworks including 28 reproductions of Sharaku's most famous bust portraits, and contemporary works inspired by the art of Sharaku in media as diverse as posters, painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, and prints.

The eighteenth century Japanese artist known as Toshusai Sharaku produced over 140 woodcut prints in the ten months between May 1794 and February 1795. The majority of the works were portraits of Kabuki and Kyogen actors, sumo wrestlers and warriors. Sharaku captured the features and characteristics of his subjects through keen observation, depicting them in an impressionistic fashion ahead of his time. No other works are attributed to Sharaku as he mysteriously disappeared suddenly after this brief period.

This exhibition, is neither an overview of the works by Sharaku, nor a selection of famous examples of ukiyo-e. Rather, it looks at the works of artists today who have been given the same theme to illustrate the connections between the art of ukiyo-e and graphic design in Japan today. The 81 exhibits have three main themes: 'The Reproduction of Sharaku' presents 28 of the most famous portraits of famous performers by Sharaku, made in 1794. These prints were created in limited edition by the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints; in 'Sharaku in Graphic Art', 28 of Japan's top graphic designers use Sharaku's bust portraits as design elements, representing them in different types of posters; the final section is 'Homage to Sharaku', which displays a diversity of artworks by 11 young contemporary artists. This section provides an opportunity for artists to express their interpretation of the art of Sharaku through different media.

These unique contemporary interpretations of the art of Sharaku reflect the profound influence that this eighteenth century avant garde ukiyo-e artist continues to exert in Japan today. The exhibition also provides a platform to connect the ukiyo-e tradition with graphic design and contemporary art of Japan.

 

TOSHUSAI Sharaku

 ICHIKAWA Komazo III as SHIGA Daishichi, 1794

 Polychrome woodcut print, 38 x 25 cm 

 Reproduced by the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints

(Photo courtesy of The Japan Foundation)


KATO Shuzo 

Sharaku, 1995

 Offset print, 103 x 72.8 cm 

 (Photo courtesy of The Japan Foundation) 

 

TANAKA Ikko

A Sharaku Head in 9 Circles, 1995 

 Offset print, 103 x 72.8 cm

 (Photo courtesy of The Japan Foundation)

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