Sharaku Interpreted @ the Ayala Museum

Sharaku Exhibit Banner from the Ayala Museum’s Official Website

My budding interest for Japanese Art has coincided with the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month – July.  From the stellar performances at the Drum Tao show, 15th of July; I just had to deal with another ‘art attack’ last Sunday, 22nd of July.  With BFD in tow, I head out to the Ayala Museum in Makati for the Sharaku Exhibit.

About Sharaku (  Toshusai Sharaku (active 1794 – 1795) is widely considered to be one of the great masters of woodblock printing in Japan.  Little is know of him, besides his ukiyo-e prints (ukiyo-e: a genre of woodblock prints and painting produced between the 17th and 20th centuries; the genre features landscapes, tales from history, the theater, and entertainment quarters).  His active career as a woodblock artist seems to have just spanned for 10 months, Edo period (Tokugawa), from mid-1794 to early 1795. 

The re-evaluation of Sharaku’s work was prompted by a book, published by German scholar, Julius Kurth in 1910.  About 150 works were attributed to Sharaku, and his influence in Japanese contemporary art has become pronounced. (Info from the exhibit’s primer)

About the Exhibition: In 1996, after ‘two hundred years of Sharaku’, an exhibit was conceptualized to feature reinterpretations of Sharaku’s works by contemporary graphic designers and artists. It has become a ‘traveling’ exhibition since then, the current leg being hosted by the Ayala Museum until 16 Sept 2012. 

The exhibit is divided into three segments: 1) Reproduction of Sharaku’s Works; 2) Sharaku in Graphic Art; 3) Homage to Sharaku. 

The exhibition also features a reinterpretation by Takashi Murakami, a celebrated avant-garde Japanese artist, also known for the commercial success of his collaboration with luxury label Louis Vuitton in 2002. 

Art for visitors:  The exhibition also features two huge boxes with cards and envelopes.  It acknowledges the fact that ‘everyone likes someone as you like someone’.  The fun thing here is that you get to keep an envelope with a postcard and drawing of someone else’s favorite person.  Then you are to draw your favorite person on the back portion of an unused postcard.  Colorful markers are provided.  Put the postcard back into the envelope and leave it in the other box.  Someone will discover and get to keep your work in the next leg of the exhibit.  This sort-of-chain continues as the exhibition travels from one place to the next.  From Manila, the exhibit’s next stop is Indonesia.  =D

BFD: runner turned artist


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