My boyfriend and I took off on a spontaneous road trip to Portland, OR for a couple of days to celebrate his birthday and while down there we went to see the exhibit The Artist’s Touch, The Craftsman’s Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum. I have a particular fondness for Japanese woodcut prints, born out of the many hours spent as a kid poring over my grandmother’s collection of books on the subject, so I was thrilled that we managed to squeeze in a visit – it provided a perfect little artistic recharge and the trip gave my eyes a much needed break.
If you are anywhere near Portland, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to see the exhibit. It’s one thing to see reproductions of the prints in books, and a completely different experience to see them up close. I spent quite a bit of time with my nose about 5″ off the glass. Reproductions, as good as many of them are now, just don’t give a complete sense of the translucency or subtle texture of the paper.
I took a lot of iphone photos of details I found particularly wonderful and wanted to remember for future reference, and also bought the catalogue so I can turn to it when I need a bit of an artistic pick-me-up.
(l-r top) Katsukawa Shunkō | Ichikawa Danjūrō V as a yamabushi, 1779-81; Keisai Eisen | The Courtesan Uryūno, c. 1830
(centre) Katsukawa SHUN’EI (1762-1819), Hachidanme (Act VII: The bride’s journey) From the series Chūshingura (The Treasurey of Loyal Retainers), early 1790’s
(l-r bottom) Totoya Hokkei | Usokai (Bullfinch Exchange), probably 1831; Ogata Gekkō, Oishi Kuranosuke Yoshio, 1897
The exhibit runs until January 22, 2012.
View a slideshow of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.