Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Laptops. Kuniyoshi. Graphic craftsmanship.

My laptop died at work. Pathetically I felt completely impotent for a day, not sure what could be salvaged or whether to restart on-going projects.

So whilst the IT boys here worked their magic to rebuild the laptop, I sneaked off for a couple of hours to the Kuniyoshi exhibition at the Royal Academy.

The demographics of the visitors were a pretty good guide to the appeal of the exhibition. It was a quiet mid-morning but there was a mixture of the usual chattering classes - 'friends of the RA' types - Japanese tourists (unsurprisingly) - students - and some tattoo 'alternative' types. The latter because of course both the style and subject matter are very similar to the Japanese school of tattooing.

I was struck mainly by how very modern the prints looked. The craft of making the prints from wood-cuts makes them look like tattoos - or comic books - like both these processes a black outline is filled with colour. And the colours:the reds ,blues and greens are much more vivid than you would find in western prints of the same era.

There was one glass case explaining the print-making purpose I was struck by the interplay between the art and the craft.
This is a subject close to my heart - at work we occupy the space where in graphic terms art and craft meet, and it's a pet subject of mine that the creative disciplines can only be as good as their less glamorous artisan poor relations. It's why I struggle with 'conceptual art'.

I've just read a book - Colour by Victoria Finlay - which pretty much says the same thing: We only view art through the lens of the practical crafts that execute it. So for example; our modern view of Turner is defined by the fact that he didn't seem to give a toss about the quality of the paint he used. Consequently the crappy colours have degraded over the years and given a much softer and subdued effect than he ever intended.

... Meanwhile my laptop has now been restored to its former glory. Nothing 'business critical' has gone but I'm extremely pissed off to have lost five years worth of my i-tunes library.

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