Stars of the Tokyo Stage
Natori Shunsen’s kabuki actor prints
19 July – 12 October 2014
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra ACT
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Image detail above:
Ichikawa Sadanji II as Narukami in ‘Narukami’ 1926
from the series Collection of creative portraits by Shunsen
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Stars of the Tokyo stage: Natori Shunsen’s kabuki actor prints reveals the dynamic world of Japan’s kabuki theatre through superb actor portraits created by artist Natori Shunsen (1886–1960) in the 1920s and 30s. A selection of spectacular kabuki robes further illustrates the extravagance of the theatrical form.
An inspiration to artists for centuries, kabuki draws on Japan’s rich folklore, literature and history, as well as violent, romantic and scandalous events, to present lavish dramatic performances. Kabuki actors – the movie stars of their day – were wildly popular for flamboyant portrayals, extraordinary characters and colourful personal lives. Shunsen’s prints provide a fascinating glimpse into this glamorous world, while demonstrating consummate mastery of traditional Japanese printmaking techniques.
Exclusively from the National Gallery of Australia collection, Stars of the Tokyo stage explores kabuki and modern Japanese printmaking in the context of the astounding changes taking place in Tokyo as the 20th century unfolded. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue and primary and secondary education resources.
Secondary education resource available here