Fine art student and freelance writer from Paris, living in London.
A rare opportunity to discover his work
The Great Wave, from Thirty-six views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831, Image fro www.britishmuseum.org
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is internationally recognized as one of the most famous and influential Japanese artists. The British Museum from May 25th to August 13th is hosting an exhibition of his work, which focuses on the last 30 years of his life. You can admire some of its most emblematic masterpieces such as the Great Wave and the series of landscapes devoted to Mount Fuji. In addition to the landscape paintings, the exhibition also presents more intimate scenes as well as Hokusai's fascination with supernatural creatures, which allows a dive into the personal beliefs of the artist. These are not the usual ones you see in books or postcards. You'll be surprised by the size of the pieces, so delicate and small.
Extremely fragile, the famous Great Wave of Kanagawa by Hokusai has remained sheltered from light since 2011. It is almost two centuries old. The Great Wave of Kanagawa (also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave) will again be available to the public for the first time in years, as it leaves the British Museum reserve, where it has been carefully guarded since 2011, with other paintings and prints by the Japanese artist. In France, art lovers had the chance to see another copy of the work, during another Hokusai exhibition, at the Grand Palais in 2014.
Clear day with a southern breeze (Red Fuji) from Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831, Image fro www.britishmuseum.org
If the iconic print, symbol of the artistic movement ukiyo-e ("image of the floating world" in Japanese), has not been exposed for six years, it is because it is extremely sensitive to light; proof of the delicacy of the work, probably created in 1831, during the Edo period (a period from 1600 to 1868 and taking its name from the ancient name of Tokyo).
During the exhibition, the most fragile drawings, prints and paintings, including The Great Wave, will not all be exhibited at the same time. Some works will be exchanged between 3 and 6 July in order to preserve their quality as much as possible. You might need to come twice if you want to see every work.