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Jiji reinvents the Ukiyo-e style

Pierre Waterschoot




Who is Jiji?

Jiji is a Chinese artist based in Beijing, he cleverly mixes the Ukiyo-e style and pop-culture, creating prints between modernity and tradition.

His Instagram

star wars kaiju
Star Wars Kaiju
When night fell at the Kabuki-za, a bunch of Kabuki actors had just finished their drama show — "The Star Wars." They won't be going to the izakaya to get drunk tonight.
Because Kaiju Toy Store is the real paradise for middle-aged men. In front of the window, the actors suddenly rush. And then they dressed up as monsters, put on a cute “Godzilla vs. Ultraman” show.

What is Ukiyo-e?

Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art that flourished from the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century. Its artists produced woodcuts and paintings on subjects such as feminine beauties; kabuki actors; sumo wrestlers; story scenes and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; the fauna and the flora; as well as eroticism. The term ukiyo-e (浮世絵) translates to "image(s) of the floating world".


In 1603, the city of Edo (Tokyo) became the seat of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate. The chōnin class (merchants, artisans, and laborers), positioned at the bottom of the social order, benefited the most from the city's rapid economic growth, and began to indulge and frequent the entertainment of kabuki theater, geisha and courtesans of pleasure. districts; the term ukiyo (“floating world”) came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle. Printed or painted ukiyo-e works were popular with the chōnin class, who had become wealthy enough to afford to decorate their homes with them.

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The first works of ukiyo-e emerged in the 1670s, with paintings by Hishikawa Moronobu and monochrome prints of women. Color prints were introduced gradually and were at first only used for special orders. In the 1740s, artists like Okumura Masanobu used multiple blocks of wood to print areas of color. By the 1760s, the success of Suzuki Harunobu's "brocade prints" led to color production becoming the norm, with ten or more blocks used to create each print. Some ukiyo-e artists specialized in making paintings, but most works were prints. Artists rarely carved their own wooden blocks for printing; production was instead divided between the artist, who designed the prints, the sculptor, who cut out the wooden blocks, the printer, who inked and pressed the wooden blocks onto handmade paper, and the publisher , who financed, promoted and distributed the works. Because printing was done by hand, printers could achieve impractical effects with machines, such as blending or grading colors on the printing block.


Scholars appreciated the portraits of beauties and actors of masters such as Torii Kiyonaga, Utamaro and Sharaku who came at the end of the 18th century. The 19th century also saw the continuation of the masters of the ukiyo-e tradition, with artist Hokusai creating The Great Wave off Kanagawa, one of the best-known works of Japanese art, and the Fifty-Three Stations by the artist Hiroshige. of the Tokaidō. Following the death of these two masters, and faced with the technological and social modernization that followed the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the production of ukiyo-e experienced a sharp decline.


However, the 1870th century saw a revival of Japanese printmaking: the shin-hanga ("new prints") genre capitalized on Western interest in prints of traditional Japanese scenes, and the sōsaku-hanga ("creative prints") movement ”) promoted individualistic works designed, sculpted and printed by a single artist. Printmaking since the late XNUMXth century has continued in an individualistic vein, often made with techniques imported from the West. Ukiyo-e played a pivotal role in shaping Western perception of Japanese art in the late XNUMXth century, particularly the landscapes of Hokusai and Hiroshige. From the XNUMXs, Japonism became a dominant trend and had a strong influence on early Impressionists such as Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet and Claude Monet, as well as impacting Post-Impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh and the Art Nouveau artists. like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

joker japanese print
nike samurai motorcycle
Ukiyo-e men in black
Men in Black
There is a story about us, at the edge of the universe. In order to avoid the bizarre rumor in society, Kay and Jay, who are in love with each other, must dress in black and hide to become the Men in Black. Their greatest wish is that one day they can escape the darkness and escape into the depths of the stars. Jay often says to Kay: I don't care where you go, I'll come with you...
Arquilian / Men in Black 1997
Ballchinian / Men in Black II 2002
pineal eye
Pineal Eye / Men in Black II 2002
Ukiyo-e mosh tendrils
Mosh Tendrils / Men in Black II 2022
split guy men in black
Split Guy / Men in Black II 2002
Ukiyo-e worm
Worm / Men in Black 1997
Ukiyo-e robot squid
Robot Squid / Men in Black II 2002
Ukiyo-e one eye guy
One Eye Guy / Men in Black II 2002
Ukiyo-e locker aliens
Locker Aliens / Men in Black II 2002

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