Paul Binnie, Utamaro's Erotica, Tattoo Design

Original Japanese woodblock print.
Paul Binnie, Utamaro's Erotica, Tattoo Design
Paul Binnie, Utamaro's Erotica, Tattoo Design Paul Binnie, Utamaro's Erotica, Tattoo Design

Artist: Paul Binnie (1967-)
Title: Utamaro no Shunga (Utamaro's Erotica)
Series: A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo
Date: 2005
Condition: Excellent.
Size: 43.2 × 29.8 cm

This print shows a young girl tattooed with an erotic design by Utamaro, the great late-18th century artist of beauties, derived from his album e-hon 'Komachi Biki', while the cartouche design comes from his famous Utamakura album.


The art of tattooing in Japan has evolved, some might say declined, a great deal since the Edo period, and as many people have rightly pointed out, young ladies would be highly unlikely today to decide to have a large design placed on their backs like this, but this whole series is a work of the imagination, and plodding reality must be replaced with the romanticism of the image.


The artist has used metallic pigments and lacquer detailing in the hair, and this time the seal, which spells 'Paul Binnie' in stylised form, is in the shape of a butterfly, recalling Puccini's beautiful heroine.

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
SubjectBeauty & Female, Shunga Erotica, Tattoo Design, Contemporary
Dimensions43.2 × 29.8 cm
SeriesA Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo
PublisherSelf Published