3 – 36 Views of Mt Fuji – Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai, 'South Wind, Clear Sky' (Gaifū kaisei) ['Red Fuji'], a colour woodblock print
Katsushika Hokusai, ‘South Wind, Clear Sky’ 1831 (Gaifū kaisei) [‘Red Fuji’], a colour woodblock print
Katsushika Hokusai created his 36 views of Mount Fuji as a series (eventually 46) of wood block prints printed as a collection, individual sheets and formally published as a book.  This is the origin point of this project – the traditional idea that an artist visualises a fixed monumental image, part of a historical landscape, set in a defining geography, to create a linked set of artworks.  Hokusai uses this framework to describe the everyday of Japan (foreground) in the first part of the 19th century set against the sacred mountain Fuji (Fujisan) (mostly background).  His compositions are flat and decorative in places and then full of dramatic perspective in others.  They are regarded as a bridge between the historical pre industrial Japan and the opening of influence to Western development, particularly visible in his use of  European ideas of linear and atmospheric perspective and the particular use of Prussian Blue – new to Japan at the time.

My plan is to employ the idea of series linked to a  central backdrop with the ever present industrial landmark that is created by the Steam Cloud from the Egger factory in Hexham.  The analogy or comparison of a dormant volcano and sacred mountain with a factory chimney in a chipboard factory in the rural North East of the Uk is perhaps fanciful.  However, there is a beauty in the changing nature of the billowing cloud from the unmoving chimney, in a constantly differing light and atmospheric conditions. It is always seen, but ignored, from countless human viewpoints in this apparently semi rural paradise, this juxtaposition fascinates me.

A screenshot from website - Hokusai online.
A screenshot from website – Hokusai online.

South Wind, Clear Sky Image downloaded from British Museum Website October 18th 2015

Screenshot of Hokusai Online – educational website – downloaded October 18th 2015

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