There are so many great exhibitions on at the moment I need to visit one a week to keep up. Today’s trip was to NGV in St Kilda Road, a great place to spend a rainy day.
Hokusai is on until 15 October and like all popular showings there will probably be a mad rush at the end. There are a total of 176 works, quite overwhelming.
The exhibition is bookmarked by two charming prints, both thought to be self portraits.
They show his passion for humorously depicting ordinary people engaging in everyday activities. He was at the height of his fame in the 1830s when he was in his seventies.
The most well known of the many series on show is the Thirty Six Views of Mt Fuji, an amazing example of landscape composition, humour and affinity with nature.
Along side the wood block print The Great Wave acquired by the NGV in 1909 is an equally early print from Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, Matsumoto. It was fun to play “spot the difference”.
After seeing the Mt Fuji, Waterfalls, Poetry, Bridges and other series, there are some beautiful woodblocks known as Large Flowers and Small Flowers. His influence on Japanese art is obvious in these works.
Lots of different people are interested in this showing, there were many Japanese visitors, the usual gallery attendees and an audience mainly interested in Hokusai’s Manga.
The first ten volumes were published between 1814 and 1819 and others came later. They are thought to have been painting manuals for artists interested in Hokusai’s spontaneity and originality, but proved very popular with the general public.
A selection images from Self-taught Dancing Apprenticeship 1814 have been animated by the NGV Multimedia team to demonstrate that he had an understanding of creating moving images well before any similar European animation device.
As usual there is a stunning selection of merchandise created especially for the NGV, all very beautiful and expensive.
I came home with a magnet and the book as it was very hard to choose which images I liked best.