The Enlightenment of Jigokudayu BAMPFA

Brave Warriors and Fantastic Tales at BAMPFA Worth Taking In

While the Golden State Warriors have fled the East Bay for greener pastures, REAL ancient heroes are on prominent display at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive through May 31.

Among the last great ukiyo-e artists of Meiji Japan, Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839–1892) reigned supreme for his daring prints based on various tales and legends of ancient Japan and China.

Senior Curator for Asian Art Julia M. White with Curatorial Assistant Lucia Olubunmi Momoh note that the the artist made use of Western colors and inks for dramatic effect, yet stayed loyal to the woodblock print techniques that had guided past masters.

The 22 prints are arranged on the ramp leading down to the special exhibitions gallery, which permits viewers to approach the art easily and pause to carefully examine the fine detail and vibrant colors of the art.

“In his short life, he created numerous series exploring a multiplicity of themes related to Japan’s rich history,” observe the curators.

In Brave Warriors, legendary warriors of Japan come to life to bring honor to themselves and their masters.

In One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, exquisitely attired men and women are cast as theatrical players in settings that evoke melancholy, romance, and bravery. Fantastic creatures inhabit his series known as Thirty-Six Ghosts, featuring figures that both frighten and amuse the viewer with their dramatic design.

This exhibition is made possible through a generous gift from Fernàn Franz Steiner, whose donation of his personal collection of prints greatly enhances the BAMPFA holdings of nearly two thousand woodblock prints.