The Visions of Kuniyoshi at the Museo della Permanente

At the Museo della Permanente, straight from the Nation of the Rising Sun, 165 engravings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, the most ingenious Japanese master of Ukiyoe, the art of “images of a fluctuating world” which has greatly influenced contemporary pop art, from “manga” comic art to tattoos. A fascinating universe of graphics and colours, which, after garnering a true cult following in 19th Century Japan, went on to conquer Western artists such as Claude Monet, and then the global imagination of the XX Century. Extraordinary and versatile, the masterful technique of Kuniyoshi which, admiring European colleagues, managed to imitate the level of their engravings on copper with a wide range of subjects and formats: from traditional circular fans (uchiwa) to gigantic triptychs, depicting epic sagas and romantic adventures, courtesans and actors from Kabuki theatre, as well as ghosts, imaginary animals and cats, for which the artist had a special affinity. But that which differentiates Kuniyoshi from other masters of Ukiyoe is the prevalence of an unbridled fantasy within the traditional style: worthy of the highest appreciation, his dynamic scenes, dense in detail, his taste for the grotesque and horror, the funny parodies elaborated to escape censorship, his magician’s skill with shadow and figures that are reminiscent of Arcimboldo.
Francesca Grego - © 2017 for Bulgari Hotel Milano