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Brian Williams

Peru, Japan

1950 –

  • Details

    Alternative title
    Place where the work was made
    Shôwa period 1926 - 1988 → Japan
    Media category
    Materials used
    49.0 x 44.0 cm image; 56.0 x 56.5 cm sheet
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated l.r., pencil "Brian Williams '88".

    Gift of the artist 1993
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Brian Williams

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Brian Williams

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The title of this print, 'Busho', means warlord, and the image of traditional armour and helmet evokes the samurai heroes of Japan's mediaeval past. Samurai legend and mythology are deeply ingrained in the national consciousness of Japan. The samurai have been romanticised and idealised, and their legendary acts of heroism are known to every schoolchild. Renowned for their bravery and stoicism, the samurai lived by a most exacting code of behaviour, known as 'Bushido' (the Way of the Warrior), in which the highest value was placed on loyalty to their lord. Those found guilty of disloyalty were expected to commit 'seppuku' or ritual suicide. The legends and ethos of the samurai live on in plays, television dramas and the films of Akira Kurosawa ('The Seven Samurai', 'Throne of Book', 'Kagemusha').

    Williams was born in Lima, Peru, and now lives in Shiga Prefecture. For him 'bonsai' is a sort of ghost or echo from Japan's martial past - an image that is quaint and somewhat sinister at the same time. He believes a knowledge of a society's past is essential to the understanding of its present and future, and hence has depicted this image of a vague memory dimly gleaming in the half light of the past.

    Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 97.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

    • The Urban Bonsai, Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 04 Mar 1992–04 May 1992

      The Urban Bonsai, National Art Gallery, Wellington, Wellington, 20 Jun 1992–09 Aug 1992

      The Urban Bonsai, Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch, 12 Sep 1992–29 Oct 1992

      The Urban Bonsai, Manawatu Art Gallery, New Zealand, 13 Nov 1992–10 Jan 1993

      The Urban Bonsai, The George Adams Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, 18 Mar 1993–25 Apr 1993

      The Urban Bonsai, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 May 1993–01 Aug 1993

      The Urban Bonsai, Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, Emu Plains, 11 Mar 1994–24 Apr 1994

      The Urban Bonsai, Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra, 19 May 1994–19 Jun 1994

      The Urban Bonsai, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown, 15 Jul 1994–21 Aug 1994

      The Urban Bonsai, Bank Art Museum Moree, Moree, 11 Nov 1994–24 Dec 1994

      The Urban Bonsai, Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah, 01 Feb 1995–05 Mar 1995

    • Heroes and Villains, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 May 2001–19 Aug 2001

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications