Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889) is a popular artist, and exhibitions of his works seem to be held every year. Unlike previous exhibitions, however, none of his finished paintings (with coloration based on his preparatory pictures) or prints are on display here. Our exhibition consists of carefully selected works from the extensive collection of Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum that give a very vivid sense of how Kyosai drew, such as drawings, preparatory pictures, sekiga (impromptu drawings created extemporaneously at parties and other occasions), and e-dehon (illustrated painting manuals). Although his finished paintings are highly accomplished, they might be well-mannered works where the raw energy of his drawing is suppressed, and his pupils undertook tasks such as coloration for some of them. In addition, although there are many Kyosai woodblock prints, they were completed with cooperation from other people, namely the carvers and printers who worked on Kyosai’s original drawings. The preparatory pictures and sketches, however, are 100% the work of Kyosai, and vividly show us how skilled he was. The bold decision not to display Kyosai’s finished paintings is a challenging attempt to immerse visitors in works that focus solely on his talent for artistic expression and depiction.
The Extraordinary Drawings of Kyosai
November 28, 2020 to February 7, 2021
Tokyo Station Gallery
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-0005