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London Tattoo Convention: Art Exhibition - Japanese Gallery Kensington

Woodblock print by Utagawa Yoshiharu

Japanese Gallery Kensington are proud to share a new collection of extraordinary traditional woodblock prints at The London Tattoo Convention this September.

Japanese Gallery Kensington return for the second consecutive year to London Tattoo Convention and are proud to share a new collection of extraordinary traditional woodblock prints.

Featuring works by Kuniyoshi, Kunichika, Toyokuni III and Paul Binnie amongst others, these works offer an insightful view to Japanese tattoo culture through the ages.

The exhibit will take viewers through an evolutionary journey of wabori (Japanese traditional tattoo designs), conflating modern day tattoo styles with the popularity of ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) in the mid-18th century Edo period (1603 - 1868).

Modern woodblock print by Paul Binnie

Woodblock print by Toyokuni III Atagawa

In a time when any signs of individuality were suppressed, tattoos and printmaking were proof that the working classes found their own way of expressing themselves through the vibrant world of popular art.

Extremely elaborate, both artistically and culturally, the purpose of Japanese tattoos shifted over time from a form of punishment to beautification, with designs depicting a wide range of subjects inspired by traditional Japanese imagery and motifs. Many of these have roots in Japanese religion, folklore, literature, and art.

Seeking to connect past and present, the exhibition will trace the development and popularity of Japanese tattoos alongside woodblock printing, while focusing on the importance of their aesthetic value.

Comparable in tradition and technique to ukiyo-e, tattoos were catering to the working classes – the artisans, the artists, the merchants – as well as the so-called otokodate, heavily tattooed street knights and champions of the common people. Most of these were captured in woodblock prints and made famous.

Woodblock scene by Toyohara Kunichika

Woodblock print by Kuniyoshi Utagawa

Don’t miss this stunning collection of original prints that will bring traditional designs into present times.

View this fascinating exhibition at The London Tattoo Convention, 28-29-30th September 2018. Advance Tickets are now available to purchase online; get yours today!

Article by Jasmine Rollason.

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