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(Japan 1936 – )

Human studies (C)
Alternative title:
Hito, hito kô (c)
Place of origin
Heisei period 1989 - → Japan
Media category
Materials used

76.7 x 57.0 cm image; 84.0 x 63.5 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "H.Tomihari '91".
Gift of the artist 1993
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

The artist Hishikawa Moronobu (c.1618-1694) is popularly credited as the founder of the 'ukiyo-e' style. Important as a painter and an illustrator, it was his genius as a figure painter that created the single standing female figure portrayal ('bijin-ga') that served as a symbol of Japanese womanhood in the Edo period (1615-1867). The most famous image of this talented pioneer was a 1690s portrait of a walking girl looking over her shoulder.

Tomihari has taken this most famous Moronobu image and used it as the central motif of his composition. The image is repeated in varying degrees of clarity, conjuring up ghosts of courtesans past, while images of the modern pin-up equivalent, and the night lights of the pleasure quarters, pulse through the composition.

Tomihari re-interprets a traditional subject in terms of the sensitivity of modem society. He adheres to the traditional technique of the woodblock from respect for its directness and its long history in Japan. He was one of the early leaders in the more recent revival of woodblock, using only a varied surface of black and white to create his complex, allusive and rhythmic images. In this print various forms share the same contours; by the contours they are related to each other, and the contours could be rhythmically repeated to infinity.

He was born in Ibaraki Prefecture, educated at Ibaraki University and now lives in Saitama Prefecture.

Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 96.

Bibliography (1)

Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 96, 105 (colour illus.). 65

Exhibition history (1)

The Urban Bonsai: