I visited the York Art Gallery the other day, I really enjoy my afternoon looking at the ‘Pictures of the Floating World: Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints’ and also the Aesthetica Art Prize 2021.
“Ukiyo-e translates as “pictures of the floating world”, referring to the transitory nature of life. Visitors will see delicate prints depicting scenes celebrating everyday life, through themes such as landscape and travel, actors and courtesans, and folk tales.
It delves into the history of the works, explaining why Japanese art became increasingly influential during the 18th and 19th centuries. With the variety of artwork on display, you can see how western artists were inspired by the use of line and colour, and how Japanese artists were influenced by western artists’ use of shading and perspective.
The works on display are unearthing the intricate layers of what it means to be alive today. Life was complicated before Covid-19, but the pandemic has placed a new set of strains and challenges on society. However, the artists’ works are covering themes such as the climate crisis, colonial histories, racism, new technologies and the impact it has on our lives. The pieces draw on both personal and universal narratives and in many ways that unique blend of the macro and the micro makes this exhibition immediate, compelling and highly relevant for the times in which we live.
Artists are the chroniclers of our times. Through work that digests the very nature of life in the 21st century, we are able to question further, make sense of and unite in this time of uncertainty and change. Human history has been re-written, and we are living in that moment right now.
Genres include painting, photography, sculpture, video and installation, and these immersive works are part of a wider line of enquiry into our complex world. The featured projects span the UK, USA, Germany, Canada, Australia, Taiwan and Brazil.