I found myself, on this rainy grey afternoon, with an hour or so to kill, and little energy to do anything approaching real work. It's been a hectic few months and, ironically, whilst spending so much time writing about Japanese prints I haven't had much of an opportunity to simply sit back and admire them. Today I decided to remedy the situation.
I'm often asked which woodblock print is my favourite. Well, when I'm stone cold sober (as opposed to being surrounded by the objects of my obsession and intoxicated by them), I can usually answer the question. Recently, the print which always comes to mind is the one chosen for the cover of Utamaro Revealed. Today, with a multitude of prints spread out before me, however, when the question was asked I could make no response. There's just too much choice.
Aside from Utamaro, I am very fond of Noel Nouet. I have always had a great interest in the influence of Japanese woodcut prints upon European artists, and I very much like the mix of Japanese and European methods of depiction contained in Nouet's prints. I bought this particular print quite a while back. I like the fact that it's signed by the artist for one Mr Allen. I like old books with inscriptions inside them too... they give you a glimpse of the book or print's history, who owned it, where it's been, etc. They also remind you that you're only the object's custodian for a limited period of time, and that you have a duty to care for it until it passes into the hands of its next keeper.
Aside from Utamaro and Nouet, I have been collecting prints which have rats for their subject for the past few years. My most recent acquisition was an octagonal fan print by Shibata Zeshin. Knowing rats very well, as I live with eight female ones, I can say without a shadow of doubt that no artists have captured the character and personality of the rat as well as the woodblock print artists of Japan.
Causes Gina Collia-Suzuki Supports
The World Wildlife Fund
Cancer Research UK