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Beyond the floating world – Contemporary Japanese Printmaking.

Opening of the new Temporary exhibition at the Hambis Municipal Printmaking Museum in Nicosia In collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Cyprus

The exhibition will be opened by the Ambassador of Japan in Cyprus mrs Izumi Seki οn Friday 27th of May at 19:30

With a title evoking the rich tradition of Japanese Printmaking and more specifically the celebrated genre of Ukiyo-e, which depicted the fleeting and ephemeral “floating world”, this temporary exhibition of contemporary Japanese Printmaking at the Hambis Municipal Printmaking Museum in Nicosia aims to open a horizon “Beyond the floaring world”, by presenting the work of thirteen contemporary Japanese printmakers. The opening of the exhibition also includes the video screening of the omnibus animated film ΤΟΚΥΟ LOOP, a collection of animated works by 16 Japanese contemporary artists.

Japanese printmaking has a long and rich history which begins with the religious prints of the 13th century. At the beginning of the 17th century, the start of Japan’s Edo period, printmaking radically changes. Artists depict “ukiyo”, the floating world. The word is charged with the Buddhist sense of a world without permanence and the themes reflect the volatility of life as it unfolds before our eyes. Since the first works of the genre Ukiyo-e (‘e’ means image) in the 17thcentury, artists try to capture the feverish rhythm of a changing world that leans more and more towards the hedonistic enjoyment of ephemeral and fleeting daily pleasures. The varied subject matter comes from urban life and includes scenes of entertainment, sumo wrestling, famous Kabuki actors, the beautiful courtesans of the “green houses” as well as the popular bijinga (“paintings of beautiful women”) and shunga (erotic scenes.) The woodblock ‘Mokuhanga’ printmaking technique allowed for the cheap reproduction and dissemination of the works. At the end of the 19th century Ukiyo-e begin to reflect the influence of Western artistic movements. In the 1830s, with the work of Hokusai and Hiroshige, meisho-e prints (pictures of famous places) reached unparalleled perfection.

Using as a spring board this rich centuries-old tradition, samples of which are included in the Museum’s permanent collection, and also keeping in mind the continuing evolution of contemporary Japanese printmaking, this temporary exhibition presents a selection of mostly experimental works, taking us on a poetic quest for the result of this rich legacy: the printmaking world of Japan today. The two worlds, of traditional and of contemporary Japanese printmaking, are connected at the beginning of the exhibition, with the display of two Mokuhanga woodcuts by the great artists Kitagawa Utamaro and Ando Hiroshige.

While they all stand out for their exceptional artistry, some follow faithfully on the path of local Mokuhanga technique, while others experiment with combinations of Western traditional and new techniques. Abstract or descriptive, their works move away from traditional themes. The artists express through their own personal language their inner world or the world around them.

TOKYO LOOP film anthology

This view of contemporary Japanese art is enriched with the video screening at the opening of the exhibition of the omnibus film TOKYO LOOP. This film anthology, produced by Image Forum, was first presented in 2006 to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of animated film. The contributors include acclaimed animation artists, as well as Japanese creators of many genres, including manga artists, illustrators and contemporary artists. The collective result is very Tokyo-like in its fragmented and shifty seductiveness, and thus in tune with the exhibition’s general theme.

The exhibition is realized in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Cyprus, in the context of the celebration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between Cyprus and Japan. Our official sponsors are the Cultural Services of the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth.

The exhibition will remain open until October 15th, 2022

Participating printmaking artists:


TOKYO LOOP contributors:

SATO Masahiko + UETA Mio, TANAAMI Keiichi, SEIKE Mika, OYAMA Kei, SHIRIAGARI Kotobuki, Tabaimo, UDA Atsuko, AIHARA Nobuhiro, ITO Takashi, SHIMAO Maho, WADA Atsushi, MURATA Tomoyasu, FURUKAWA Taku, KURI Yoji, YAMAMURA Koji, IWAI Toshio.        

Music: YAMAMOTO Seiichi