Home > Arts & Crafts, History, Press Release > Art Exhibition: “What is Ukiyo-e?” – ICN Gallery London

Art Exhibition: “What is Ukiyo-e?” – ICN Gallery London

Brilliantly coloured woodblock paintings executed in a technique known as nishiki-e!

Dates: 05 – 28 April 2012 (Closed Sundays)

ICN Gallery proudly presents to you a series of exhibitions that centres on the theme of ukiyo-e. This exhibition, which is the first in the series, serves as an introduction to ukiyo-e that will hopefully enable visitors to better understand its historical origins and influence on Japanese art.

The word “Ukiyo”(fleeting life) means “modern-style”. Ukiyo-e is the most popular print describing people’s everyday life and every things which became popular in the Edo. The bold compositions and vibrant colours attracted European painters such as van Gogh and Monet, hence an unprecedented boom of Japonism.

This exhibition features brilliantly coloured woodblock paintings executed in a particular technique known as nishiki-e, the latter of which is commonly administered in ukiyo-e works. The pieces showcased here are also accompanied by interpretations that advise the viewer on how best to comprehend and appreciate the charm of ukiyo-e. We highly recommend this exhibition for not only people those who’re already interested in Japanese culture, but also those who have never seen Ukiyo-e before.

A total of 67 works are being exhibited, all of which are for sale. These pieces were created by different Edo-period artists such as Hokusai and Kuniyoshi who were interested in a variety of subject matter, ranging from themes of beauties, kabuki, samurai, landscapes and caricature. We sincerely hope that you will be satisfied with the characteristic and charm of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints such as its novelty, originality, the beauty of omission, and clear colouring.

(Courtesy of the ICN gallery)

History of Ukiyo-e

Traditional woodcut print making is a composite art from in which the individual, specialist skills of artists, wood carvers and print makers are combined to create a delicate and beautiful work of art known as Ukiyo-e (pictures of the modern world). The world of woodcut printmaking is one of grace and warmth that is not found in any other form of printing. Through the skillful hands of master craftsmen of the Heisei era, this traditional art form has been inherited by the current age.

Returning to the past, it is notable that it was not the Japanese upper-classes, but rather the common people, who cherished Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and nurtured the development of the woodcut printing techniques necessary to produce them.

The mass production and circulation of woodcut prints underlay the blossoming of Japanese popular culture that occurred during the Edo era(1600-1867). Ukiyo-e prints are widely appreciated both within and outside of Japan. Indeed, woodcut print making techniques are said to have had a strong influence on the European impressionist painters of the 19th century.

About The Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints

The Adachi Institute prides itself in making reproduction Ukiyo-e prints by employing the same skills, techniques and materials that were used by the original woodcut print makers of the 18th and 19th centuries. A brief outline of the reproduction process is as follows:

1. Exact line reproduction is achieved by using a verified original print from one of the world’s major Ukiyo-e collections. The blocks are carved by master engravers to duplicate exactly the same lines as the original print. This engraving requires delicate sensitivity and persistence. Old cherry wood is used for the blocks.

2. Printing is done by hand employing the same processes as were used on the original print. This stage is tedious and painstaking, for each color has to be printed from its own block. As with the originals all prints are made on washi (handmade Japanese paper) nd natural dye colors are used.

The Adachi Institute conducts careful research and adheres to the highest standards of Japanese craftsmanship in order to ensure that its reproductions are of the greatest accuracy.

The Adachi Foundation for the Preservation of Woodcut Printing

Through various enterprises,the Adachi Foundation for the Preservation of Woodcut Printing initiates activities that help to pass on the techniques of traditional woodcut printing to future generations. The foundation engages in the following activities. Preservation of Techniques, Cultivation of Successors, Publicity.

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