Kuniyoshi exhibition

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to visit het SieboldHuis in Leiden, a small museum devoted entirely to Japan and Japanese arts. They had a great exhibition on Utagawa Kuniyoshi and his art.

Kuniyoshi made a lot of cat prints. He also used cats to counter the censorship in Japan: some of his satirical cartoons are filled with anthropomorphic cats instead of people.

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Another interesting thing is his experimentation with ‘wide screen’ illustrations for a more dramatic effect:

kuniyoshi_Takiyasha_the_Witch_and_the_Skeleton_Spectre

Here you can read more about the exhibition of ukiyo-e prints by Kuniyoshi.

Sadly, in Japan the art of making wood block prints is slowly disappearing. The awesome kickstarter project Ukiyo-e Heroes, in which the creators planned to make wood block prints of Japanese video game characters, proved that the demand for original wood block prints still exists — but maybe from a different audience.
Below are some examples of prints from the Ukiyo-e Heroes project, with Samus (Metroid series), Mario and Donkey Kong and Link (The Legend of Zelda). I think this is a great way to revive and promote traditional wood block printing. It’s such a shame this art form is on the brink of extinction!

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If you like the illustrations, you can buy prints in the store of the official website.