Manga Beginnings: Utagawa Kuniyoshi @Japan Society

Most of the local comickers spent last weekend at MoCCA Fest, the Festival of Comics and Cartoon Art that usually hits in June in NYC. But lately, Japan Society has been holding a few events that all comickers and art afficianados can appreciate.

Last weekend Japan Society held a jcation at their sleek, stylin’ facilities where Choux Factory sold creme puffs (or choux cremu), Asahi beer flowed, Brooklyn band Asobi Seksu jammed, and the 150 year old screen prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi brought it all together – in the funky, contemporary, days-of-yore/living dangerously/being wild way that he does.

Don’t know much about Kuniyoshi? Lucky for you the exhibit is at Japan Society through mid-June. Even luckier for you, there’s a symposium on Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s work this Saturday, April 17, starting at 1pm.

Of course, the New York Times releases their critique/coverage of the exhibit (as well as a slideshow) the same day my post goes up.  Can’t argue good timing – or good taste.

Kuniyoshi is said to have influenced contemporary manga and anime and it doesn’t take long to see how or why. His meticulous, detailed, and highly imaginative screenprints are narrative illustrations, compelling and incredibly creative. Arrows fly during battle and will bring to mind Maggie Cheung’s red scene where she fights off an onslaught of arrows.  In another print, the warrior Jiraiya sits atop the giant toad and will bring to mind, er, Jiraiya and his giant toad in Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto.
If it inspired today’s most popular mangaka, it’ll inspire you, too. So check it out. Kuniyoshi’s stuff is so good, it’ll make your teeth hurt and your heart ache.

(Above photos taken from the Japan Society website.  The artwork is far better experienced in person.  Really.)

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  1. gunstrom said

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