Most people with an interest in Japanese culture will have at the very least heard of Katsushika Hokusai, considered by many to be Japan’s greatest artist. His most iconic print, ‘The Great Wave’ and other works will be coming to the British Museum in the exhibition ‘Hokusai: beyond the Great wave’ (25 May – 13 August).
This exhibition, supported by Mitsubishi Corporation, will be the first in the UK to focus on the later years of life and art of Hokusai. Born in 1760, he painted ‘The Great Wave’ in 1831 and continued to paint until his death at the age of 90 in 1849.
As well as major paintings, ‘Hokusai: beyond the Great wave’ will shed a light on the artist’s personal beliefs and spiritual and artistic quest through drawings, woodblock prints and illustrated books. This will be a rare opportunity to see Hokusai’s works in the UK and the artworks will even rotate halfway through the exhibition in order to preserve them from the light.
Hokusai’s art is internationally recognisable and I’m fairly confident that most people will recognise ‘The Great Wave’. Of course, he produced many other fantastic works, such as the print series ‘Thirty Six Views of Mt Fuji’, a mountain of spiritual significance. Mythological beasts, fauna, birds, beautiful women and more also provided Hokusai with endless inspiration.
Hokusai’s personal life also had a significant effect on his later works. The death of his wife, illness and financial woes caused by an errant grandson contributed to his art. He even collaborated with his daughter Eijo, an accomplished artist who returned to care for him after leaving an unsuccessful marriage. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may remember that name from Miss Hokusai, which screened as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2016.
Tickets (£12 for adults, free for children under 16) are available now!