The exhibition, the first monograph dedicated to the Artist in Italy, is aimed at presenting the production of Kuniyoshi in its entirety, highlighting the amazing technical and inventive abilities of the visionary Master, through a selection of 165 colour woodblock prints all from Japanese collections. The Exhibition is divided into 5 thematic sections: “Beauty”, “Landscapes”, “Heroes and Warriors”, “Animals and Parodies”, and “Cats”.
Visionary Master of the ukiyoe
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) is one of the great masters of the early 19th-century ukiyo-e and learnt his art under the master Utagawa Toyokuni.
His fame is linked to a series of colour woodblock prints illustrating the 108 heroes of Suikoden (published in English under the title Water Margin), a novel that became a best-seller in China and Japan at the end of the 18th century. Describing the exploits of a band of brigands fighting on behalf of a people ground down by government injustices and corruption, it is full of powerful, violent, armed characters with muscular bodies covered in tattoos who now inspire mangas, anime, tattoo-artists and artists all over the world.
His prints are highly imaginative, lushly coloured, baroque, and full of tiny details with impressive characters and dramatic gestures filling the entire print surface, whether it is the classic rectangular format, a round uchiawa fan, his preferred format of the large-scale triptych or even the exaggerated hexaptych format.
Kuniyoshi’s ability and curiosity led him to experiment with different techniques, embracing western painting to the point of imitating the appearance of copperplate printing rather than woodblock prints, distinguishing himself from masters of landscape prints like Hiroshige and Hokusai through this new vision.