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Light shed on Japanese Edo art

2 December 2009

Light shed on Japanese Edo art

A fully illustrated talk at Christchurch Art Gallery later this month will shed light on the rich and complex references in art from Japan’s Edo period (1615–1867).

Richard Bullen, a lecturer in art history and theory at the University of Canterbury, is a specialist in Japanese art. Curator of the current Canterbury Museum exhibition Pleasure and Play in Edo Japan, Richard will discuss how the country’s art and cultural history informs the understanding of the pictures in the show.

The Edo period was Japan’s last feudal period before the country opened up to the West and Westernisation from 1868. In this time of prolonged peace, the distinctive arts of ‘ukiyo’ (the ‘Floating World’) flourished in conjunction with the development of the coloured woodblock print.

“Despite its popularity and mass-produced nature, the art of Japan’s Floating World is surprisingly complex – full of references and associations to the country’s cultural past,” Richard says.

“Although the Edo period saw the development of a surprisingly modern and cosmopolitan culture, Japan’s cultural past remained of interest to the populace.

“Artists could rely on their audience’s familiarity with Japan’s heritage and used this to create humourous, and sometimes complex, associations.”

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
6pm Wednesday, December 9
Sponsored by The Press


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