Paul Binnie, Kunisada's Danjuro, One Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo


Artist: Paul Binnie (1967 – )
Title: Kunisada’s Danjuro
Series: Edo Zumi Hyaku Shoku (One Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo)
Date: 2006
Edition: 39/100
Published: by the artist
Dimensions: 42.2 × 31.5 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print. 

japanese woodblock print, contemporary art, tattoo design, inspiration, paul binnie
japanese woodblock print, contemporary art, tattoo design, inspiration, paul binnie japanese woodblock print, contemporary art, tattoo design, inspiration, paul binnie

The design of this print shows one of the favourite actors of the early 19th century Kabuki theatre, Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791-1859), as portrayed by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1854), an artist who was particularly interested in this star actor. He was a member of Danjuro’s fan club, often used him as a subject for surimono (privately published prints) and followed the actor’s career faithfully, representing him innumerable times until his death.

In the tattoo, Danjuro is depicted in the first performance of a play called Kakitsubata Iromoedozome in the fifth month of 1815, while the cartouche image shows him in the distinctive red kumadori make-up of the character Kamakura no Gongoro in one of his signature pieces, Shibaraku.

Taking the dramatic pose with the sword in the print as the starting point, the model is posed to reflect the motion of striking with his short sword, which allowed the tip of the sword to break out of the frame and into the margin, and it has been heightened with pale blue mica to catch the light.

Paul Binnie

Blending traditional methods with a modern style, Paul Binnie’s work is heavily influenced by the Shin-hanga movement, founded by the publisher Shozaburo Watanabe (1885-1962). Shozaburo aimed to renew declining Ukiyo-e tradition and break into foreign markets by commissioning new, young artists who would work within the old co-operated system, composed of the publisher, artist, engraver and printers. However, Binnie works independently, making prints from beginning to the end, as was done by artists of the post-war Sosaku hanga movement. He works across several different subjects including kabuki, tattoo, landscape and beauty prints. Binnie’s original plan of a short stay in Japan changed once he started to sell his kabuki prints. He decided to expand his technique and remained in Japan creating works of this subject until 1998. His interest in Japanese tattoo was born when he saw Yakuza, members of the Japanese mafia who traditionally have body tattoos, bathing for the first time in a sento (Japanese-style public bath). Near the end of 1997, he began to expand into Japanese landscape prints, which became a huge success.

More Information
Print FormatDai-Oban
ArtistPaul Binnie
SubjectSamurai & Male, Tattoo Design, Contemporary
Dimensions42.2 × 31.5 cm
Condition ReportPerfect condition.
SeriesA Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo