By Alex Patton
The exhibition Hokusai Hiroshige – Beyond the Wave, from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, is currently on display at the Archaeological Museum of Bologna. About 250 pieces make up this event and it is the first time that this exhibition has made an appearance in Italy. The works featured are all created by two well-known Japanese artists; Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai. These artists are considered to be among the masters of ukiyoe painting, which reached its pinnacle during the early and mid-nineteenth century in Japan.
The ukiyoe paintings in the exhibition depict many nature scenes, as well as visual depictions of legends and the daily life of the Japanese people. Mt. Fuji is a central figure in many of the paintings. Among the variety of works on display by the two Japanese artists is Hokusai’s “The Great Wave Off Kanagwa.” This painting is considered to be an “icon of Japanese art.” Hiroshige’s “Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji” are a part of the exhibit as well.
The artists drew inspiration from both traditional Japanese culture and western art techniques. In turn, it is also believed that western Impressionist artists drew inspiration from Hokusai and Hiroshige’s work. Such artists include Monet and Van Gogh. Hokusai and Hiroshige helped to shape the future of ukiyoe painting and Japanese art.
The exhibition takes you through each series created by the Japanese artists, with both Italian and English descriptions of the paintings on display. There is a video as well that details how certain paintings are created. The exhibition opened on 12 October 2018 and will be at the Archaeological Museum of Bologna until 3 March 2019.
Most importantly though, is that this exhibition is intended as a continuation of the initiatives launched in 2016 for the 150th anniversary of Italy-Japan bilateral relations, a celebration that saw the City of Bologna protagonist with important cultural projects such as exhibitions dedicated to Giorgio Morandi in Kobe, Tokyo and Iwate.