I have been mulling over my experiences in Japan; the everchanging land and cityscapes, the daily kaleidoscope of unfamiliar foods, sounds and customs, visual delights of every sort, and the kindness of strangers.
Sitting at home in the rural quiet of a grey English October and letting some of those things find me again, its interesting to see which experiences stay with you or pester you with a creative itch that will have to be dealt with fairly swiftly. While I saw less in the way of Japanese prints than I thought I might, the prints I did see were inspirational.
One unexpected find was a little museum in Osaka, Kamigata, http://kamigata.jp/kmgt/english/. “This museum exhibits ukiyo-e paintings produced in Osaka in the Edo period. Most of the ukiyo-e paintings made in Osaka were portraits of kabuki actors.” The exhibitions change but when we visited the prints explored how light and dark are portrayed. It was fascinating to learn more of the conventions of the depiction of light and dark both in the prints and the theatre and how they inform each other, the many different sorts of light, candles, lamps and fires and the concept of black as being “invisible”.
The museum is small and quite dark to preserve the prints but they will issue you with a LED torch which enables you to get very close and see the gorgeous details and the quality of the surface. Here the beam of light brightens the colours rather than bleaches them out.
The embossing of parts of the prints, almost impossible to see without a raking light, gives an added dimension to the print and the use the “light”.