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Japanese Influences on my Still Life Series - Hiroshige and Hokusai

I love combining influences from all over the globe but I have some particular artists that have provided so much inspiration. Two of the these are the Japanese artists Hiroshige 1797-1858 and Hokusai 1760-1849.

Hokusai had many changes in his artistic style over his long career. He had a personal obsession with Mt Fuji which features in so many of his works. Much like Cezanne's obsession with Mont St Victoire. He is most well known for his great wave which I have appropriated in my large blue painting.




Right next to the wave in my painting I have included Hiroshige's cat sitting on the windowsill looking out to Mt Tibrogargan and a small volcano reminiscent of Mt Fuji. The whirlpool in the foreground is from Hiroshige. I have put the two together.

Hokusai had a great talent for self promotion. He once famously dipped a chicken's feet in red paint and chased it over the paper. He told the Shogun the marks were red maple leaves. Abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock would have loved this story.


What I love most about Hokusai are his innovative compositions. I have included snippets of his work and that of Hiroshige in many of my still life compositions. The images below show where I have included backgrounds from these two artists. These are details from larger works.


I find the work of Hiroshige more poetic than that of Hokusai. Hiroshige produced bird and flower prints and everything he does appears to have an unusual vantage point. He produced many travel prints rendered with seasonal allusions and striking colours. Hiroshige pioneered the use of the vertical format for landscape printing. He never travelled west of Kyoto and drew upon other travellers' anecdotes, including a comedy adventure of two bumbling travellers as they made their way along the same road.

The following images are details from my paintings that show the "quotations" from these Japanese artists.





























The elements from Hokusai and Hiroshige that impress me most are; changes of scale; looking through frameworks to other things; the division of the composition into triangles, curves and other bold shapes; areas of nothing (negative space);cropping of objects; and the design element of the inset images and stamps.


The following images are some favourites by Hiroshige.











And of course my source books below.





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