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Ukiyoe Spectacular

Japanese Woodblock Prints from the 1800s

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West Vancouver Museum is pleased to announce Ukiyoe Spectacular, an exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints from the 1800s.

Over one hundred woodblock prints from a private collection in Japan will be on display at the West Vancouver Museum and the Nikkei National Museum. This is a rare opportunity to see works by Kuniyoshi, Yoshifuji and Hiroshige, among many other ukiyo-e artists. Curated by ukiyo-e scholar Inagaki Shinichi and West Vancouver Museum’s Kiriko Watanabe, Ukiyoe Spectacular reveals compelling images of the supernatural and epic myths, as well as portraits of courageous samurai and historical events. 

During the Edo period (1604-1868), the concept of “floating world” indicated the enjoyment of life while it lasted. Ukiyo-e, which literally means “pictures of floating world”, dates back over three hundred years and reached its golden age during the Edo. The prints included in this exhibition from the late Edo demonstrate technical virtuosity and culturally rich traditions.  In addition to common ukiyo-e subjects, such as kabuki actors and beautiful women, many images reveal various interpretations of social and political issues.  Consumer taste and the censorship imposed by the Tokugawa government at the time played a major role in facilitating new trends in the making of ukiyo-e.  

Princess Takiyasha Calling up a Monstrous Skeleton Spectre at the Haunted Palace at Sōma (c. 1844-48), a triptych by Utagawa Kuniyoshi depicts a giant skeleton conjured by the princess’s dark magic looming over two samurai figures. Though this image is dramatic, there are many others in the exhibition that are entertaining. The more time you spend looking, the more things you discover: the face you are looking at is composed of an assemblage of cats or a figure’s eyes are made of blowfish.   

This exhibition celebrates the 125th anniversary of consular relations between Canada and Japan and also gives an opportunity for visitors to see the visual and technical sophistication of this unique Japanese art form.

Women, Cats, And Demons: Discover The Roots of Manage in West Vancouver in Vancouver Observer by Jordan Yerman, March 10, 2014

Seeing Spectacular in Ukiyoe: Japanese Woodblock Prints in The Source, Forum of Diversity, Volume 14, Issue 4, March 4–18, 2014 by Anastasia Scherders, March 4, 2014

Photo Gallery: Ukiyoe Spectacular at the WV Musem in North Shore News

Ukiyo-e Pictures of a Floating World in Homes and Living by Courtney Rosborough, Special Edition, 2014

Exploring Pictures of A Floating World in North Shore News by Jeremy Shepherd, January 17, 2014

Report on Ukiyoe Spectacular in Vancouver Shinpo (pp11, 12), January 16, 2014

Photo Gallery: Ukiyoe Spectacular in Burnaby Now, January 13, 2014

West Van's Ukiyoe Spectacular in North Shore Outlook  by Michaela Grastin, January 7, 2014

Japanese History Unfolds in Art Exhibition in Burnaby Now, January 7, 2014

The Cat in the Bag: Inventing Japanese Pop Art in Akihabara News by Jordan Yerman, December 24, 2013 (French version)