HARD MEN AND SOFT WOMEN
20 woodblocks of Yoshitoshi, a woodblock of Kuniyoshi and a print of Lichtenstein were shown on the second floor of the Centre Céramique in Maastricht from October 4 to November 13, 2005.
Japan became united after centuries of battle. A long period of peace followed. The emperor in Kyoto had the formal power but the Shogun in Tokyo ruled. Lords were forced to stay under surveillance in Tokyo during a large part of the year. An odd relationship existed between the mighty men and poor women. Men liked to see themselves as courageous warriors who defended their honour and women as beings who willingly accepted the demands of gentlemen.
Many exhibited prints show historical events. A famous story tells about the honour of a samurai. 47 loyal retainers had lost their lord. They plotted a revenge on the person who had caused their loss. Their plan succeeded.
Yoshitoshi designed many woodblock series. Females from the second half of the 19th century appear in ‘32 aspects of women’. The example presents a wife who takes care of her household.
Many tales were illustrated by Yoshitoshi in his ‘100 aspects of the moon’. Picture three shows a streetwalker strolling in the moonlight. She needs the mat for her job. Yoshitoshi portrays the pathetic person in a sympathetic manner. The fourth image presents a samurai. He is not showing off a colourful shirt but a fashionable tattoo.
A court lady cries and a blonde weeps in the bitterness of love. This comparison shows the similarity between Japanese woodcuts, comic strips and pop art.