News/Blog Breaking news, exclusive features & artist interviews

Interview by: Tuesday 25 June 2019
Share this story

Art Exhibitions: Japanese Tattoos in Woodblock Prints

Japanese Gallery Kensington return for the third consecutive year to The London Tattoo Convention and are eager to share the latest collection of extraordinary traditional woodblock prints this September.

Showcasing antique works by Kuniyoshi, Kunichika and Toyokuni III amongst others, these works offer an insightful view to Japanese tattoo culture and its legacy.

The exhibit will take viewers through an evolutionary journey of wabori (Japanese traditional tattoo designs), conflating modern day tattoo styles with the popularity of ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) in the mid-18th century Edo period (1603 - 1868). Extremely elaborate, both artistically and culturally, the purpose of Japanese tattoos shifted over time from a form of punishment to beautification, with designs depicting a wide range of subjects inspired by traditional Japanese imagery and motifs. Many of these have roots in Japanese religion, folklore, literature, and art.

Seeking to connect past and present, the exhibition will trace the development and popularity of Japanese tattoos alongside woodblock printing, while focusing on the importance of their aesthetic value.

Comparable in tradition and technique to ukiyo-e, tattoos were catering to the working classes – the artisans, the artists, the merchants – as well as the so-called otokodate, heavily tattooed street knights that fought against authority and protected the common people. Most of these heroes were captured in popular literature and theatre plays of the day and made their way into woodblock prints.

Don’t miss this stunning collection of original artworks that will bring traditional designs into present times.

Find Japanese Gallery Kensington at The London Tattoo Convention, 27-28-29th September 2019. Advance Tickets are now available to purchase online; get yours today!

Facebook: @JapaneseGallery 
Instagram: @japanesegallery