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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Painting of the Month (30) June 2012: Hokusai

Hokusai's 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'
This iconic image was produced in about 1830 by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. It is a wood-block print and the first in a series depicting views of Mount Fuji. These kind of prints were usually made using cherry wood by a printer engraving from an original painting and the artist would not be involved in the process of  it's production. Many prints were made and this is an early, very high quality version.
Ying &Yang
The tension in the picture is derived from the impending crash that the huge wave is about to make. The power of the wave makes a ying-yang contrast with the space beneath it as the scared Mount Fuji sits serenely in the background. There are three fishing boats in the scene that are so cleverly interwoven that it is easy to miss them at first look. The boats would have been bringing fish from the islands around Edo (modern day Tokyo) to the mainland. It was unusual at that time to depict everyday work-related events in a painting.
I think the clean lines and pure colours make this a work of true beauty. Incidentally the artist has made good use of the, then recent, availability of a new blue pigment known as 'Berlin Blue'.


All Consuming said...

Yes it's a beautiful picture isn't it. Good to see it again :)

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I saw so much more with your explanation. Thank you.

Aliza Pershing Krepps said...

That piece might very well go with the current year's animal of chinese calendar - water dragon.

bazza said...

AC: I think lots of people are familiar with this print without knowing it's origin. I'm glad you approve!

bazza said...

SO,AC: Thank you Arleen, I really enjoying researching this stuff. Most of it doesn't come straight out of my head of course.

bazza said...

Aliza: Absolutely! A perfect match. The large wave is almost alive and quite dragon-like.

Anonymous said...

Hot from the desk of the fabulous Sir Tom Eagerly:
If Hockney had done this he might have called it "An Even Bigger Splash". Am I hot or what Bazza?

bazza said...

Sir Tom: You are definitely almost lukewarm Sir Tom!

John said...

Hi Bazza,
Another informative posting! Very reminiscent of the Japanese cartoons, in my eyes anyway! ;)

bazza said...

John, as usual your eye has guided you well! The picture is cartoonish in it's strong use of clear line and flat colour. That does not stop it being a work of great beauty though.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Have always admired Hokusai. I did a study of a pagoda he did. Later tried my hand at wood block printing - won first place in NYC baby! (Okay, I'm bragging, but I did sign the work as a study of his work... with credit to his name.)
Such a fierce movement of the waves with delicate lacy-look edges. Boats are in turmoil, yet behind a delicate snow falls softly on the mount.
I'll stop now, as I think I may be turning Japanese... I really think so!!(smile)

bazza said...

Dixie: I remember that song.
I am impressed with your credentials! One should brag about those sort of achievements!

klahanie said...

Hey bazza,
I very much like that painting. It makes me think of 'soccer' as in football. You see the top of a wave can be called a white cap. Thus, the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer, came to mind.
Thanks bazza and have a good one.

David said...

Dear bazza,
I like this painting very much. I first saw it on a TV programme many years ago, and it I'm still impressed by it. And, as you say, it has become an iconic image.
Best Wishes,

bazza said...

Gary: Obviously you are a big fan. All my relatives in BC only follow UK soccer - the best!

bazza said...

David: It has great general appeal for something which, at first sight, appears to be very simple but turns out to be fairly complex.