Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Japanese manga comic fans are in for a treat at the ongoing exhibition at Việt Nam Fine Art Museum in Hà Nội.
The exhibition Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master’s Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics introduces similarities and differences between contemporary Japanese manga and Hokusai Manga, a collection of sketches by artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).
Today, more than 200 years after the first volume of Hokusai Manga was published, the rich visual expressions created by Hokusai and other artists of the era continue to captivate viewers.
The Hokusai Manga is block-printed in black, grey, and pale flesh and was published from 1814 to 1878 in 15 stitched-bound volumes. It consists of 4,000 images and some 800 story pages.
With regard to Hokusai and his manga, the Japan Foundation’s exhibition does not take an art-historical perspective, instead approaching the Hokusai Manga from the perspective of contemporary Japanese comics, focusing on genre, pictorial storytelling and participatory culture.
Instead of aiming at a historical verification of influences, the exhibition invites viewers to ponder their own notions about manga by comparing works from different periods.
The exhibition consists of manga panels by Hokusai and contemporary artists displayed on folding screens, books, videos, and a group of new works by seven contemporary manga artists based on the theme of Hokusai and his manga.
Hokusai gained renown in Europe and North America in the late 19th century beginning with his Manga. Broadening the scope of ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world), he depicted courtesans and stage actors, published landscapes series, illustrated entertaining narratives, and even held painting performances.
His most well-known and popular work is The Great Wave, released as the 21st print of his series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugakusanjūrokkei, 1830-33). Depicted from an extremely low point of view, a giant wave enters the picture moving from left to right. The image itself was extraordinary in its time in regard to both the sea as subject matter and the use of the newly imported colour Berlin, or Prussian, Blue.
The series’ second print has Mt. Fuji framed by the roofs and gate of a then highly popular department store near Edo castle. Pilgrims climbing Mt. Fuji and worshipping at its crater rim are the subject of the print thought to be the final of the series.
Seven contemporary manga artists created work especially for the exhibition. They are divided into two groups. Some engage with formal aspects of the Hokusai Manga, while others show a deep fascination with their creator and the time-transcending dimension of his stance towards picturing anything and everything.
Nishijima Daisuke is one of the artists. He produces graphic narratives that combine a cute, almost fan-service-like look with geopolitical issues such as the American War in Việt Nam, as in his long-running series Điện Biên Phủ since 2006.
In the original artwork entitled La Mer he created for this exhibition, he deployed both his pictorial and musical skills: a character from his manga series A Kindly World hovers on a vertical scroll, with accompanying piano music, composed and performed by the artist himself and reportedly inspired by Claude Debussy’s La Mer and the fact that Hokusai’s Great Wave adorned the first edition of its sheets in 1905.
Other artists include Ichikawa Haruko with Summer Fields (2015); Okadaya Tetuzoh with That’s All For Now (2015); Yokoyama Yuichi with Giant Elephant (2015); Shiriagari Kotobuki with Funny Faces (2015); Igarashi Daisuke with A Person Who Draws the World (2015) and Kyo Machiko with Innocent Toys (2015).
All contributing artists are experienced authors of longer or shorter graphic narratives that are first serialised in manga magazines and later republished in bound volumes.
Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master’s Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics exhibition was held in Rome, Italy in February 2016 and in Dublin, Ireland in March 2017.
The exhibition will run until May 2 at 66 Nguyễn Thái Học Street, Hà Nội and will be held in Museum of HCM City, 92 Lê Thánh Tôn Street, District 1 from May 12 to 26. — VNS