Today's postings

  1. [Baren 25473] Re: Sharaku Interpreted Exhibition (Jan Telfer)
Member image

Message 1
From: Jan Telfer
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2004 20:35:37 +0800
Subject: [Baren 25473] Re: Sharaku Interpreted Exhibition
Send Message: To this poster

Today I went to see the Japanese Woodblock Exhibtion at Central TAFE on
"Sharaku Interpreted by Japan's contemporary artists". I enjoyed
seeing the woodblocks as they were mostly of the Kabuki theatre
artists, and interestingly how the modern artists of Japan actually
wanted to interpret what he had done.....not quite my "cup of tea" but
it really does put a different "light" on how other artists "see" their

The fold out brochure is very interesting in how it gives a historical
background to Sharaku's woodblocks and how the modern graphic design
artists have "taken him off"!

"Toshusai Sharaku (dates unknown) was an ukiyo-e woodblock artist of
the Edo period. Some identify Saito Jurobei, a noh actor who lived in
Hacchobori, Edo and a retainer of the Awa Clan, as Sharaku, but no
decisive proof supports this theory. In approximately 10 months from
May 1794 to February 1795, Sharaku produced over 140 works!! The
majority of these prints were portraits of actors in the kabuki or
kyogen roles and others include images of sumo wrestlers and warriors.
28 large portraits featuring portraits featuring close-up images of the
heads of kabuki actors printed in lavish colour and mica (most of the
backgrounds were mica) were the most highly esteemed of his works."

....."But with his 1910 publication of "Sharaku", the German scholar
Julius Kurth created a "Sharaku boom" in the west which eventually
resulted in a reevaluation of the artist in japan. Sharaku was then
firmly established as an outstanding ukiyo-e artist both in and out of
Japan. Conversely, the puzzle regarding Sharaku's identityhas only
further deepened,as his face were somehow veiled...the theory of
"sharaku's other identity" thrives in Japan, furthering the concept
that Sharaku was some famous artist who simply took the name Sharaku
for a limited period of activity. Artists such as Maruyama Okyo,
Utamaro and Hokusai have all been proposed for this role, but none of
these theories has survived. Such speculations have merely fanned the
flames of the "Sharaku legend". All of Sharaku's works were published
by the publisher Tsutaya Juzaburo."

The modern artists have really "cartooned" the features of what Suraku
had printed....these included in this exhibition:
- two Micky Mouse cartoon prints in acrylic by Takashi Murakami
- parts of the prints, facial features and hands superimposed with
modern photography by Yasumasa Morimura
- A line of 7 mouths used in Sharaku's portraits on a profile by Makoto
- posters by graphic artists for the 200th Anniversary of Sharaku
planned and supervised by Shigeo Fukuda and organised by the Mainichi
Newspapers and others....these features hairstyles of the actors he
printed, a superimposed squared block jigsaw of the actual "artist?" on
one of the prints and other variations....I felt more mocking than
giving him the professional status he should have been reverented with.

the woodblocks were well cut and executed... about 18" x 12" with some
intricate carving in the costuming and the linear carving was
exceptionally perfect..... if it was me I wouldn't have "hidden" my
identity if that were the case!

It may also alter the way I present my woodblocks in future too. It
does need some thought!!

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding "this one"!

Cheers everyone,