My Artist Influencers – Japonisme

The next stage in the development of my artistic taste was poster art which led me into the work of Mucha and Toulouse-Lautrec and Art Nouveau, which still fascinates me. I was also interested in China and Japan, initially through martial arts, then I made the connection between Art Nouveau and Japan and started to investigate Japanese crafts and in particular their woodblock prints. My regard for all things Japanese has influenced some of my favourite paintings, and  ‘Japonisme’ is a style which has inspired me for many years.

Alphonse Mucha
Alphonse Mucha

Four of my paintings  ‘The Temple of Light’, ‘Walking to Work’, ‘Kyoto Joy’ and ‘Fujisan by Moonlight’ are obviously Japanese in their subject matter but also influenced by the purity of Japanese style. In particular “Fujisan by Moonlight” is intended as an homage to their printmaking.

One of series resulting from my trip to Japan. Every artist who visits Japan has to do a Mount Fuji painting this is mine, influenced by Japanese style but via my personal vision.

Japonisme is a term used that actually sums up the massive influence Japanese arts had during the 19th century, from their decorative arts through to woodblocks and every day life. This influence is seen in the work of many of the great artists from Van Gogh to Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec, with the lines creating depth and space, the vibrant colours, the beauty and grace of the women in their traditional costumes, the aesthetics of Japanese culture shines in these works. These Impressionist artists were hugely impressed and attracted to the Japanese woodblock prints and were greatly enamoured with all Japan had to offer, from the silks and kimonos  to the beauty of their art. It was fresh and new in the late 1800’s and proved to be a popular style with collectors.

The great Japanese artist Hokusai’s woodblock print  ‘Breaking waves off Kanagawa’  and his ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’  are well known classics , seen all over the world and re-produced on just about every object that they can be. During his lifetime Hokusai produced around 30,000 works,  and given his great talent he was bound to be influential. You cannot help but be drawn to the power of the waves expressed through Hokusai’s the simplicity in his use of line and colour and clever play with perspective. The beauty of his work inspires and continues to fascinate me. The flat, bold colours are so impactful, they are beautiful, and it is this aesthetic that I include in my work.


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