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Yamato-e Metropolis: The Work of Akira Yamaguchi

Art, Inspiration, Japan

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Akira Yamaguchi is a master of the traditional techniques of classical Japanese painting or Yamato-e. But while the style is reminiscent of Hokusai and Hiroshige, Yamagushi’s the subject matter is not. In its place are surreal and discordant metropolises in which the old fuses with the new. In some of Yamaguchi’s works the classical style initially fools the eye, until you notice elements that are out of place: machinery, guns and trucks.

In many ways these metropolises reflect the realities of Japan today. Yamaguchi argues that since  the Meiji Era Japan has embraced Western ideas to the detriment of it’s own traditional culture. Seen in this context Yamaguchi’s work takes on new meaning; are these traditional paintings being “invaded” by elements which don’t belong, or are the two really fusing together?

The level of detail in his large-scale cityscapes is staggering. Some of these paintings are 2½ meters across, and they feel truly monumental. It’s hard to admire on a computer screen so make sure to click on the images to view them as large as possible.


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