“If heaven gives me ten more years, or an extension of even five years, I shall surely become a true artist.”
– Katsushika Hokusai, c. 1849
Having spent his entire life-time in poverty, Hokusai’s artwork ended up inspiring so many great artist including Van Gogh, whose artworks were also largely unknown until his death. The timing of this exhibition by NGV International was almost too perfect as Hokusai’s followed Van Gogh’s. The current exhibition contained 176 pieces of Hokusai’s works from NGV’s own collection and the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, Matsumoto. Beside Hokusai’s greatest work, The Great Wave off Kanagawa (1830-34), this exhibition features Hokusai’s early to mature works, as well as various works with the following themes, Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji, Waterfalls in Various Provinces, Remarkable views of bridges, One hundrer ghost stories, Snow Moon and Flowers, A true mirror of Chinese and Japanese Poetry, Eight view of the Ryukyu islands, Birds and flowers, One hundred poems explained by the nurse, Hokusai Manga, One hundred views of Mt Fuji and The life of Shakyamuni (NGV, 2017).
The above painting of Thunderstorm beneath the summit c.1830-34, has to be on of my favourite out of Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji series. The reds are vibrant and such a contrast to the clear sky above.
Photographs can never do justice to the vivid colours Hokusai painted on his wooden blocks. The exhibition were curated according to the different themes set, which helps the exhibition’s flow for visitors. The best time to go to this extremely popular exhibition will be early morning on weekdays. Keep in mind, once it gets busy there are not a lot of room to move or enjoy the works, as the room was divided in a tunnel like maze, which seemed to be NGV’s current mood in terms of exhibition lay out. Perhaps inpired by many European galleries, however I personally feel it to be such disadvantage for art lovers who prefers to roam and wander, as suppose to being lead through. Since The Great Wave is perhaps what every visitors come to see, there were plenty of space given for visitors to roam there. It was a wonderful exhibition to visit and just admire, however considering the smaller roaming space in comparison to the amount of visitors coming in, did made the exhibition less enjoyable. Regardless, worth the visit…