Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Hokusai Exhibit...

...was utterly BRILL but mondo crowded. That's what I get for going to the show on its very last day.

The Ghost of Kohada Koheiji
There was a massive line to get in. I figured each painting would have a wall of folks three and four deep surrounding it. Getting a decent squiz at anything would be impossible!

My pal Joe and I got into the first of the half dozen exhibit rooms and I had a minor panic attack—HAD to get away from all these people. Interestingly, only that first space was Cattlecar City. Every other gallery was bearable AND I could get up close and personal with each of the works. Awesome!

The Laughing Demoness
Here's the thing—I fully expected the show to be all delicately beautiful images of birds, flowers, women in brill kimonos, waterfalls and, of course, The Great Wave. Beauty—the show would be all elegant lovelihoodedness. I was cool and down with that.

And then, THEN, I turned a corner and discovered Hokusai’s O-bake series—Hyaku Monogatari (One Hundred Tales). The set of five amazing prints, illustrates stories of ghosts, demons and general scary monster types.
Hokusai himself is thought to have been a true believer in ghosts, as were most people during the Edo period. This belief in ghosts led to a popular game at the time, also called Hyaku Monogatari - friends would gather in the dark and one hundred candles would be lit. Each person would tell a ghost story, blowing out a candle after the end. The belief was that, after the hundredth scary tale had been told, and the hundredth candle blown out, something terrible, something supernatural, would happen.

Man-o-man, I was blown to bits. A-MAZing!

Unsurprisingly, Gahan Wilson’s twisted figures came to mind instantly.

I am such a sucker for scary stories and images! 

Okiku of Dish Mansion
Okiku of Dish Mansion
Okiku was employed as a maid at the mansion of a samurai. The samurai owned ten blue and white plates, which he treasured. Despite repeated efforts to woo Okiku, the samurai could not win her heart, and in desperation hid one of the precious plates. Okiku became delirious with fear—losing or breaking a plate is punishable by death. Over and over again, Okiku counted the plates, yet however many times she counted there were only nine to be found. She confessed all to her samurai master, who offered to forgive her if she took him as her lover. Even in her terror, Okiku refused; the spurned and furious samurai threw her down a well to her death. Since then, night after night, a pathetic voice rises from the depths of the well: “One plate, two plates, three plates…”. The ghost of Okiku rises with the voice, finally shrieking with fear and with rage when, once again, she can only count nine plates.
The other show shockitude was The Great Wave. All this time, I’d been thinking of it as a big wall size baby. You know, at least as big as Turner’s The Wreck of a Transport Ship which measures, about, eight feet wide by close to six feet tall.

Nope, Under the Wave off Kanagawa, AKA The Great Wave, measures approximately, sans frame, just 10”x15ish”. Huh. Waddya know.

No comments:

Post a Comment