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

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Artist: Paul Binnie (1967 – )
Title: Kunisada’s Danjuro
Series: Edo Zumi Hyaku Shoku (One Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo)
Edition: 17/100
Date: 2006
Published: by the artist
Size: 42.8 x 31 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

paul binnie, Kunisada’s Danjuro, Edo Zumi Hyaku Shoku (One Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo), tattoo design, irezumi
paul binnie, Kunisada’s Danjuro, Edo Zumi Hyaku Shoku (One Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo), tattoo design, irezumi paul binnie, Kunisada’s Danjuro, Edo Zumi Hyaku Shoku (One Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo), tattoo design, irezumi

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 is working mostly under the influence of Shin-hanga movement, founded by the publisher Shozaburo Watanabe (1885-1962). Shozaburo was aiming 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, Paul makes his own prints from beginning to the end by himself, as was done by artists of another post-war movement: Sosaku hanga.

He mostly works in several subjects such as kabuki, tattoo, landscape and beauty prints. His original plan had been to stay in Japan less than he actually did but once he started to sell his kabuki prints, he decided to expand his technique more and has created works of this subject until 1998 in Japan. 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). He is still working on a series of woodblock prints of this theme. Near the end of 1997, he began to do Japanese landscape prints and these became a huge success.

More Information
Print FormatDai-Oban
ArtistPaul Binnie
SubjectSamurai & Male, Tattoo Design, Contemporary
Dimensions42.8 x 31 cm
Condition ReportVery good.
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