Oct 19th, 2009 by admin


CARP POND by Bob Kessel

The word ‘koi’ ( 鯉 ) comes from Japanese, simply meaning “carp.” It includes both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties. What are known as ‘koi’ in English are referred to more specifically as ‘nishikigoi’ ( 錦鯉 ) in Japan (literally meaning ‘brocaded carp’). In Japanese, ‘koi’ is a homophone for another word that means ‘affection or love’; koi are therefore symbols of love and friendship in Japan. An example of this is given in a short story by Mukoda Kuniko, “Koi-san”.

“CARP POND” by Bob Kessel, can be purchased as a signed and numbered limited edition original fine art print. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

TEA by Bob Kessel
Aug 25th, 2009 by admin

Bob Kessel’s art series “100 VIEWS” features pictures based on the works of Hiroshige and Hokusai. These pictures are available as signed and numbered limited edition fine art prints. Contact Bob Kessel for pricing and availability.


TEA CUP by Bob Kessel


TEA GRAY by Bob Kessel


TEA FOR TWO by Bob Kessel


TEA PARTY by Bob Kessel




TEA HANAMI by Bob Kessel

HENTAI by Bob Kessel
Aug 6th, 2009 by admin


Viewer reacting to “GOKKUN” by Bob Kessel

A Yahoo search for the Japanese loanword HENTAI produces over 7 million hits – more than twice that of better known loanwords such as SAMURAI, GEISHA or SUSHI.
This astonishing number is evidence of the popularity of a genre of erotic MANGA and ANIME referred to as HENTAI by western fans. HENTAI is an artistic expression of pornography in Japan. As opposed to photographic erotica, they allow full use of the imagination as well as scenes that run counter to accepted society and culture. Elements of sexual fantasy are represented in ways that would be impossible to film.
This is not without precedent in Japan. During the Edo Period, which was the heyday of ukiyo-e wood-block prints, ukiyo-e had a pornographic variant, called SHUNGA, which also had scenes that were sometimes surreal.



The new Bob Kessel art series, “HENTAI”, is a candy colored swirl of pastel pinks and purples.
Young Japanese uniformed school girls with dayglo colored hair and giant eyes populate this lusty world of passions fulfilled.  The Hentai series is available as limited edition fine art prints.

HOKUSAI by Bob Kessel
May 28th, 2009 by admin


FUJI TREES by Bob Kessel


Bob Kessel’s art series “100 VIEWS” features pictures based on the works of Katsushika Hokusai. These pictures are available as signed and numbered limited edition fine art prints. Contact Bob Kessel for pricing and availability.

Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎,  1760–1849 was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best-known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (富嶽三十六景, c. 1831) which includes the iconic and internationally recognized print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s. Hokusai created the “Thirty-Six Views” both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji. It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print and Fuji in Clear Weather, that secured Hokusai’s fame both within Japan and overseas. As historian Richard Lane concludes, “Indeed, if there is one work that made Hokusai’s name, both in Japan and abroad, it must be this monumental print-series…” While Hokusai’s work prior to this series is certainly important, it was not until this series that he gained broad recognition and left a lasting impact on the art world. It was also The Great Wave print that initially received, and continues to receive, acclaim and popularity in the Western world.


By 1800, Hokusai was further developing his use of ukiyo-e for purposes other than portraiture. He had also adopted the name he would most widely be known by, Katsushika Hokusai, the former name referring to the part of Edo where he was born and the latter meaning, ‘north studio’. That year, he published two collections of landscapes, Famous Sights of the Eastern Capital and Eight Views of Edo. He also began to attract students of his own, eventually teaching 50 pupils over the course of his life.

He became increasingly famous over the next decade, both due to his artwork and his talent for self-promotion. During a Tokyo festival in 1804, he created a portrait of the Buddhist priest Daruma said to be 600 feet (180 m) long using a broom and buckets full of ink. Another story places him in the court of the Shogun Iyenari, invited there to compete with another artist who practiced more traditional brush stroke painting. Hokusai’s painting, created in front of the Shogun, consisted of painting a blue curve on paper, then chasing a chicken across it whose feet had been dipped in red paint. He described the painting to the Shogun as a landscape showing the Tatsuta River with red maple leaves floating in it, winning the competition.

In 1820, Hokusai changed his name yet again, this time to “Iitsu,” a change which marked the start of a period in which he secured fame as an artist throughout Japan (though, given Japan’s isolation from the outside world during his lifetime, his fame overseas came after his death). It was during the 1820s that Hokusai reached the peak of his career. His most famous work, 36 Views of Mount Fuji, including the famous Great Wave off Kanagawa, dated from this period. It proved so popular that Hokusai later added ten more prints to the series. Among the other popular series of prints he published during this time are A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces and Unusual Views of Celebrated Bridges in the Provinces. He also began producing a number of detailed individual images of flowers and birds, including the extraordinarily detailed Poppies and Flock of Chickens.

The next period, beginning in 1834, saw Hokusai working under the name “Gakyō Rōjin Manji” (The Old Man Mad About Art). It was at this time that Hokusai produced One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, another significant landscape series.

In the postscript to this work, Hokusai writes:

“From around the age of six,
I had the habit of sketching from life.
I became an artist,
and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation,
but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention.
At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts,
insects and fish, and of the way plants grow.
If I go on trying,
I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six,
so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature.
At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them,
while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the
stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive.
May Heaven, that grants long life,
give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.”

In 1839, disaster struck as a fire destroyed Hokusai’s studio and much of his work. By this time, his career was beginning to wane as younger artists such as Andō Hiroshige became increasingly popular. But Hokusai never stopped painting, and completed Ducks in a Stream at the age of 87.

Constantly seeking to produce better work, he apparently exclaimed on his deathbed,

“If only Heaven will give me just another ten years…
Just another five more years,
then I could become a real painter.”

He died on May 10, 1849, and was buried at the Seikyō-ji in Tokyo (Taito Ward).

A short four years after Hokusai’s death, an American fleet led by Matthew C. Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay and forced Japan to open its arms to the west. Hokusai’s career spanned the last age of Japanese history before its interaction with the west would change the course of the nation.


HOKUSAI self-portrait

GRAYSCAPES by Bob Kessel
May 22nd, 2009 by admin


GRAYSCAPE by Bob Kessel

Bob Kessel has created a new art series titled, “GRAYSCAPES” based on Japanese and Chinese ink wash paintings. The pictures are available as limited edition fine art prints, signed and numbered by the artist. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

KAIJU by Bob Kessel
May 12th, 2009 by admin


FIGHTO! by Bob Kessel

Bob Kessel has created a new art series titled “KAIJU” featuring Japanese movie monsters like Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidorah and Rodan. These pictures are available as signed and numbered limited edition fine art prints. Contact Bob Kessel for pricing and availability.

KAIJU are Japanese monsters. Kaiju are typically modeled after conventional animals, insects or mythological creatures; however, there are more exotic examples.

While the term kaiju is used in the West to describe monsters from tokusatsu and Japanese folklore, monsters like vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein’s Monster, mummies and zombies would fall into this category. But Frankenstein’s Monster was once a kaiju in the film Frankenstein Conquers the World, which was created by Toho.

Kaiju are depicted as cannon fodder serving a greater evil. Some kaiju are elite warriors which serve as the right-hand man to the greater villain and are destroyed by the heroic forces. Others have a neutral alignment, only seeking to destroy buildings and other structures. During the early eras of tokusatsu, “heroic” monsters were seen in Daikaiju Eiga films, and it wasn’t until later when television tokusatsu productions began using kaiju which aided the hero, saved civilians, or demonstrated some kind of complex personality. These kaiju adopted many classic monster traits, appearing as the “Misunderstood Creature.” Some kaiju hung out with the heroes and provided comedy relief, in contrast to the darker approach to these characters from more mature franchises, like Kamen Rider.

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