Paul Binnie, Narukami, Eighteen Great Kabuki Plays


Artist: Paul Binnie (1967-)
Title: Narukami (Thunder God)
Edition: 5/80
Series: Eighteen Great Kabuki Plays
Published: by the artist
Date: 1994
Size: 47.4 x 31.3 cm

Kappazuri stencil print on black washi paper.

'Narukami' is counted among the works of 'Kabuki-Juhachiban' (Eighteen Great Kabuki Plays) of the Ichikawa Danjuro family of actors.

In this story, a priest named Narukami Shonin holds bitter feelings toward the Imperial Court. He has confined the dragon god at the bottom of a waterfall, causing a long drought. In response, the Imperial Court orders a beautiful princess named Taema to seduce Shonin and release the dragon god. The princess tricks the priest into getting very drunk and succeeds in freeing the dragon. When Shonin awakens, his fury is shown in the performance through elaborate make-up (kumadori) with thick lines and a striking expression. For this design, Paul Binnie captured this memorable pose that became a highlight of the play.

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
SubjectKabuki Theatre, Contemporary
Dimensions47.4 x 31.3 cm
Condition ReportVery good.