Sunday, August 6, 2017

Escorts Tokyo

A sell-out exhibition at the British Museum has proved once again the popularity of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, whose Great Wave is said to be the world's most reproduced image. One mural in south London was nearly wiped out when a drug lab exploded next door, but as Alex Marshall explains, there are many more on walls around the world.

In 1997, Dominic Swords, wanting to shake-up his life, went on a personal development course. One part of it required him to lead a community project. "People were abseiling down buildings to raise money for charity. I'm not the sort of person who does that one bit," he says.
He wasn't an artist, but he always liked the idea of painting a mural. "I remember going past them with my parents, looking up and just thinking they were the coolest things ever." He owned a house with a wall big enough to escort tokyo paint one on, so he decided that would be his project. "That was the easy bit," he says. Deciding what to paint was harder.
One night, he discussed options with a friend. He had decided it had to be something natural - murals of people "always look rubbish", he says - and had been thinking about a tree, swaying in the wind. But the friend said, "What about a wave?" And then both had the same thought: "How about that Japanese one?" How did it come to be something people would want on their home?
Christine Guth, author of Hokusai's Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon, says escorts tokyo its initial success was partly down to the use of the intense Prussian blue ink that was then new to Japan - "a promotional device" which was probably the idea of Hokusai's publisher. Somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 impressions of the work were made from the original woodblocks and sold in Hokusai's lifetime in Japan, she says, making it "a considerable success". But it took off globally for a whole host of reasons, she argues, including the fact that the Tokyo escort picture can hold whatever meaning you want it to.
"It's about movement, creation and destruction," she says. "It can be threatening, it can be about determination." It can even be info humorous, Guth says. "When I first saw Dominic's mural, I started laughing because the wave seems to be about to pour down on people who're going to walk through that alley."

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