“Contemporary” Ukiyo-e

One of the side projects I’ve been working on while doing the yokai has been another ukiyo-e-style painting. The Adachi Institute of  Woodcut Prints is holding a competition calling for “contemporary ukiyo-e.” What that means isn’t so clear, other than they wanted ukiyo-e that says “now.” I love doing digital ukiyo-e, but it’s always been a pretty typical subject matter for me, landscapes or portraits — nothing in it that I would really consider “contemporary,” except for maybe the medium.

Well, here is my entry, and I’m fairly pleased with it. The text, “いざ、出陣!” is a kind of battle cry, and the title, “女戦士,” means woman warrior. It sounds really corny in English actually… but I like the picture for what it is. If I were to get deep and meaningful about it, I would say that it’s an illustration of the modern Japanese soul — international, liberal, and Westernized, but still retaining a strong connection to it’s ancient traditions, gender roles, and customs. Japan is sort of an enigma in that way, and probably that’s one part of the strong appeal it has to Westerners — so familiar, and yet on another level so incredibly foreign.

I feel silly describing my art in that way… like a stuffy art school student. But I have to describe it that way — in Japanese even — for the contest. Wish me luck!

Onna Senshi

Onna Senshi

5 thoughts on ““Contemporary” Ukiyo-e

  1. Very cool piece! And, though you think your explanation is silly, it is so true. Japan’s culture seems to go through periods of alternating stasis, flux, modernization and re-creation. Their traditions fascinate us, and their creations inspire us, yet no matter how steeped we Westerners become in Japanese culture, we always seem to be on the outside looking in. Now I’m the philosophical one. 😉 Anyhow, great artwork and thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you! That’s a relief! There’s kind of a fine line between insightful observation and pretentiousness when it comes to describing one’s own artwork, and I dread to ever cross it. 🙂 I hope to do a few more in this vein this month.

  3. Your description is definitely not pretentious. I think your words and the wonderful piece go hand-in-hand as truthful observation. Beautifully done! I recently began home-studying the Japanese language/culture and your art is an inspiring find.

  4. Thank you very much. And good luck in your studies. I started studying Japanese by myself a few years ago, with only a textbook and a lot of patience. And now I live here. 😉 Ganbatte!

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