Paul Binnie, Utamaro no Shunga, A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo


Artist: Paul Binnie (1967-)
Title: Utamaro no Shunga (Utamaro's Erotica)
Series: A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo
Date: 2005
Size: 27.3 x 42.7 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

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 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
SubjectBeauty & Female, Shunga Erotica, Tattoo Design
Dimensions27.3 x 42.7 cm
Condition ReportLight crease at the top.