(Japan 1947 – )
56.0 x 76.0 cm sheet
Sobajima was born in Gifu, completed Graduate School at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, and now lives in Chiba Prefecture.
For his subjects Sobajima draws on daily life, continuing a genre tradition that dates back centuries. In Japanese painting there has always been a specific category of paintings to do with the activities peculiar to each season. No activity is more famous than cherry blossom viewing ('hanami') in spring and Sobajima depicts a hedonistic group of picnickers having a good time and enjoying their boxed lunches and sake, under the falling petals. The subject of flower viewing has long held a important place in literature, dance and the fine arts.
Sobajima depicts his revellers, two of whom have developed the jaws of cats, in the style of 'ukiyo-e', literally pictures of the floating world, a metaphor for the transient pleasures of the corporeal world. In adapting the 'ukiyo-e' style he shows the true lighthearted and frivolous nature of the Japanese. Sobajima's work recalls that of the great 'ukiyo-e' artist Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) who loved cats and often used them to caricature people and their foibles.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 88-89.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 87 (colour illus.), 88, 89. cat.no. 54
The Urban Bonsai: