Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Edo Pop

Susan Shulman and William Evertson at Japan Society's Edo Pop

None of my trips into NYC would be complete without a stop to the Japan Society.  Quietly tucked in near the UN on East 47th the Society's gallery hosts shows that have inspired my practice for years.  Edo Pop is one of those. (in fact a bit jealous since my work could have been tucked in there somewhere - more on my latest print series later)

The curators are exhibiting 100 historic ukiyo-e woodblock prints paired with the work of ten contemporary artists, who because of style, technique or sensibility create a dialogue with one of the worlds first "popular" art movements.

The Edo period (1615-1868), a prolonged era of relative peace and prosperity became known for a sift in art patronage from the aristocracy to merchants. The prints, known as "pictures of the floating world" found inspiration in everyday life, the pleasure quarters and the theater.

AIKO - Sunrise (detail of mural)

Graffiti artist AIKO, whose wall murals take up the atrium area combines the sensibility of everyday life from the streets with traditional ukiyo-e themes.

Emily Allchurch - Tokyo Story 1: Lotus Garden

Emily Allchurch's large photographic transparencies in light-boxes are paired with landscapes from Hirosage's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.  Hirosage didn't always visit the locations for his landscapes, instead constructing idealized portraits that were evocative of the soul of a place. Allchurch used a similar sensibility, digitally combining her photographic images to create slightly hyper-real locations.

Paul Binnie - A Hundred Shades of Edo: Sharaku's Caricatures

Paul Binnie, is a Scottish artist who has embraced modern sosaku hanga (creative prints) in which the artist dispenses with the traditional division of labor between the artist and the artisans who actually carve and print the woodcuts in favor of mastering the entire process.  Binnie's work strikes a unique balance of relating to the techniques while adding colors that pop and unique imagery.

Ishii Toru - Tokyo Tower

Ishii Toru's "Tokyo Tower" was an impressive work; a mountain (Fuji?) of salarymen painted as kabuki actors.  It relates strongly to a tradition of caricature combined with reference to current economic and political themes.

Artists Kazama Sachiko, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Masami Teraoka, Jimmy Robert, Narahashi Asako and Hatakeyama Naoyo are also included in Edo Pop.

EDO POP at Japan Society Gallery, 333 East 47th St. NY, NY though June 9th. Hurry!
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