Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (1831) which includes the iconic artwork, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.
Hokusai is one of the great figures of Japanese art, as well as a father figure to much of Western modernism. It has been said that without Hokusai, there might have been no Impressionism, and his influence extended to the Post-Impressionists and Art Nouveau artists. “Hokusai is not just one artist among others in the Floating World,” said Edgar Degas. “He is an island, a continent, a whole world in himself.”
I've always been drawn to Hokusai's work, with its flattened spaces and unusual vantage points, but I'm now looking more in depth at his life and work for a major exhibition next year. I don't want to reveal too much yet... all I can say for now is that I'll be collaborating with an experienced printmaker to develop a new body of work for the exhibition.
Perhaps Hokusai’s most well-known work is the woodblock print series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (1830-32). Contrasting the mountain’s steadfastness and solidity with the ravages of the surrounding elements, the series depicts Fuji through different seasons, weather conditions and charming settings. Fuji stands resolute from these multiple viewpoints, framed by stormy seas, pretty umbrellas or beautiful sakura. By pairing the mountain with scenes from everyday life in nineteenth century Japan, Hokusai’s art gives us an important message. Whilst life changes, Fuji stands still.