ASTROBOY KAIDAN by Bob Kessel

KAIDAN, or in english KWAIDAN

KAIDAN are Japanese ghost stories. A genre of art that all Japanese artists have made.

Here is one by HOKUSAI-

hokusai_kaidan

_

Utagawa Kuniyoshi kaidan print

utagawa-kuniyoshi-kaidan

_

A great japanese movie perfect for halloween is “KWAIDAN” by Kobayashi. I highly recommend it.

kwaidan-kobayashi

_

and here is a Bob Kessel kaidan print- What ever happened to ATOMU?

astrobot-kwaidan
ASTRO BOY KAIDAN print by Bob Kessel based on Astroboy.

_

Bob Kessel has created a print combining ANIME ( Astroboy ) and KAIDAN (Japanese ghost story) a genre of Japanese wood block prints. This kind of chicanery is what you come to expect from Bob Kessel, like his picture combining HELLO KITTY with EDVARD MUNCH’S “THE SCREAM”.
The print titled, “ASTRO BOY KAIDAN” is available as a signed and numbered limited edition print. Contact Bob Kessel for pricing and availability.

_

astroboy-close-up
Close up from ASTRO BOY KAIDAN print. Some may recognize Doctor Elefun.

_

Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム Tetsuwan Atomu, lit. “Mighty Atom”) is a Japanese manga series and television program first broadcast in Japan from 1963 to 1966. The story follows the adventures of a fictional robot named Astro Boy and a selection of other characters along the way.

Astro Boy is the first Japanese television series that embodied the aesthetic that later became known as anime. It originated as a manga comic series started in 1951 by Osamu Tezuka, who is known as the “god of manga”. For a time Astro Boy enjoyed a level of popularity in Japan equivalent to Disney’s Mickey Mouse.

MODERN SHUNGA by Bob Kessel

Bob Kessel has created a new art series titled, “SHUNGA” based on Japanese woodblock prints.
These pictures are available as limited edition original fine art prints,
signed and numbered by the artist. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

Recently there has been many new pictures added to Bob Kessel’s Shunga art series.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the shunga webpage receives 10 times the hits of any other Bob Kessel art series.

Shunga (春画) is a Japanese term for erotic art.
Most shunga are a type of ukiyo-e, usually executed in woodblock print format.
Translated literally, the Japanese word shunga means picture of spring; “spring” is a common euphemism for sex.
In the Edo period it was enjoyed by rich and poor, men and women, and despite being out of favour with the shogunate, carried very little stigma.

Almost all ukiyo-e artists made shunga at some point in their careers, including Hokusai, Utamaro, Harunobu, Eisen, Saeshi, Shigenobu, Issho and Moronobu, and it did not detract from their prestige as artists.

The pictures are available as limited edition original fine art prints, signed and numbered by the artist.
Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

_

shunga-woman-on-top-bob-kessel

SHUNGA WOMAN ON TOP erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-man-on-top-bob-kessel

SHUNGA MAN ON TOP erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-stars-bob-kessel

SHUNGA STARS erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-stripes-bob-kessel

SHUNGA STRIPES erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-shoji-bob-kessel

SHUNGA SHOJI erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-maid-bob-kessel1

SHUNGA MAID erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-lovers-bob-kessel1

SHUNGA LOVERS erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-pink-kimono-bob-kessel1

SHUNGA PINK KIMONO erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-ride-em-bob-kessel

SHUNGA RIDE ‘EM erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-couple-bob-kessel1

SHUNGA COUPLE erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-big-legs-bob-kessel

SHUNGA BIG LEGS erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-screen-bob-kessel

SHUNGA SCREEN erotic art by Bob Kessel

_

shunga-wrapped-bob-kessel-410

SHUNGA WRAPPED by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

SHUNGA LICKITY SPLIT by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

SHUNGA YELLOW MAN by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

SHUNGA DRAGON PILLOW by Bob Kessel

from SHUNGA art series

SHUNGA FIREWORKS by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

SHUNGA ARM by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-couple-bob-kessel

SHUNGA COUPLE by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

 •

shunga-red-kimono-bob-kessel

SHUNGA RED KIMONO by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-kiss-bob-kessel

SHUNGA KISS by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-legs-bob-kessel

SHUNGA LEGS by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-happy-ending-bob-kessel

SHUNGA HAPPY ENDING by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

.

shunga-kissing-bob-kessel

SHUNGA KISSING by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-kisser-bob-kessel

SHUNGA KISSER by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-gray-lines-bob-kessel

SHUNGA GRAY LINES by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-print-viewing-bob-kessel

SHUNGA PRINT VIEWING by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-orgy-bob-kessel

SHUNGA ORGY by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-hug-bob-kessel

SHUNGA HUG by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

shunga-night-time-bob-kessel

SHUNGA NIGHTTIME by Bob Kessel
from SHUNGA art series

SHUNGA EXPLAINED

Shunga are literally “images of spring.” That is the time of recreation and procreation, the time that inspires man and woman to couple, as if anyone needed an excuse. Shunga appeared prominently in the works of Hokusai, Utamaro, and many other revered woodcut artists.

In the Japan of the 1800’s, the color woodcut print was the most popular artform of the day. The artists of the so-called floating world or ukiyo-e portrayed real life personages and situations as the subject matter for their wood block prints. Ukiyo-e artists created extraordinary portraits of Kabuki Actors, Geisha, Sumo Wrestlers, and other notables, as well as landscapes and architectural views of old Japan. The incredible artistic output of these highly skilled artists left us an accurate view of life in the Japan of yesteryear. There was however another aspect to the art of the ukiyo-e that few Westerners have heard of, that is the art of shunga, or… the Images of Spring.

The production of such images kept most ukiyo-e artists very busy. In fact there were no artists of the time who remained uninvolved with the creation of shunga. The artists of the floating world many times created highly charged sexual imagery, erotic imagery, what Westerners would categorize as “pornographic” pictures.
Ukiyo-e artists created these “Images of Spring” without the slightest notion of embarrassment or shame. There was no stigma attached to the production, sale, or purchase of shunga artworks, in fact the market for such artworks was a lively and lucrative one. Erotic images were not illegal and collections of shunga were sold in book form, called enpon.

This artistic output on the part of Japanese artists had no equivalent in the Western art of that time and illustrates a completely different attitude about sex and morality. The aesthetics of shunga reflected the Japanese view of the body and sex as being part of the natural world, a world that held no concept of original sin.

It was a longstanding tradition that brides of feudal lords bring a collection of shunga to go along with their wedding furniture. There was also a tradition of feudal lords placing shunga in their helmet box whenever they had a new suit of armor made. These customs were a talismanic wish for eternal happiness and many artists made a comfortable living as a result.

The sale of shunga to a high-ranking person would bring enough money to sustain an artist for months, and so many notable, first rate and highly accomplished artists devoted themselves to this unprecedented artform. The level of detail with which ukiyo-e artists portrayed the human body revealed complete familiarity with anatomy and sexuality. Practically speaking the “Images of Spring” also served as a form of sex education for the sons and daughters of the well to do. This type of frank, accurate, and free representation of sexual matters was not to be seen in the West for at least another one hundred and fifty years.

There is limited knowledge of this artform outside of Japan, and in Japan itself shunga is scarcely seen or spoken of these days. However, the aesthetics of shunga still resonate in the contemporary world of certain manga and anime productions. The venerable art of shunga is the root for some modern day Japanese adult comic titles, proving without a doubt that eroticism in contemporary anime and manga is not at all a new phenomenon copied or borrowed from the West.

Those who are well acquainted with Japan’s enormous manga industry should be familiar with the genre of comic known as hentai (or “perverted”). These contemporary publications often focus on explicit “adult” material, but they have a clear artistic connection to the past in that their themes can be traced back to shunga. Shunga artworks are much more than mere “dirty pictures.”

The prints are of considerable artistry and cultural importance. In fact quite a few prestigious art museums around the world, especially in Japan, have collections of the highly prized risque prints (though they are not generally on public display).

Some scenes portrayed in shunga prints involve tender courting and romance, with all the attendant trappings of flirtation. Many of the prints offer scenes that leave nothing to the imagination. Couples are pictured in states of partial undress, in the throes of passionate lovemaking, utilizing a variety of positions and techniques.

There are even prints that depict lovely young ladies pleasuring themselves, a sight nearly totally absent from the annals of Western art! Whatever the sensual delights portrayed, the prints always manage to do so with sophistication and a certain elegance. Shunga prints are one of the overlooked treasures of traditional Japanese fine art. The “Images of Spring” should be properly recognized as high art, and at the same time preserved and studied for being one of the world’s greatest graphic art forms.

UTAMARO

utamaro-print

SHUNGA print by Utamaro

Kitagawa Utamaro (喜多川 歌麿, 1753 – 1806 was a Japanese printmaker and painter, who is considered one of the greatest artists of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints. He is known especially for his masterfully composed studies of women, known as bijinga.

Utamaro produced over two thousand prints during his working career, along with a number of paintings, surimono, as well as many illustrated books, including over thirty shunga books, albums, and related publications.

His work reached Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, where it was very popular, enjoying particular acclaim in France. He influenced the European Impressionists, particularly with his use of partial views and his emphasis on light and shade. The reference to the “Japanese influence” among these artists often refers to the work of Utamaro.

shunga-utamaro-bob-kessel

SHUNGA by Bob Kessel after Utamaro

___

UTAMARO MOVIE

utamaro-by-mizoguchi

Utamaro and his Five Women / Utamaro o Meguro Gonin no Onna (1947 Japan 90mins)

The most erotic and autobiographical of Mizoguchi’s films, UTAMARO AND HIS FIVE WOMEN is considered by many critics the crowning achievement of his middle period. It was a favourite of Susan Sontag, who frequently selected it for her Carte Blanche programmes. We could not include UTAMARO in our recent Mizoguchi retrospective because no decent print was then available, but a new 35mm print was struck just in time for these screenings. The film draws many parallels between Mizoguchi and the woodblock print artist who is its subject. (Both partook of the “floating world” of geishas, and both made their reputation with portraits of women.) Amidst the frenzied world of seventeenth-century Edo, with its sprawl of brothels and bars, the printmaker Utamaro patiently, painstakingly devotes himself to his art. The “five women” of the title are his models, including a courtesan (the great Kinuyo Tanaka) who kills her unfaithful lover. When Utamaro is arrested for outraging a local magistrate and is forbidden to draw for fifty days, art becomes, as it no doubt was for Mizoguchi, a matter of life and death. UTAMARO AND HIS FIVE WOMEN ranks with the most stirring of cinema’s classics about artistic creation. “If you want to know how we really treat what people like to call ‘the art form of our times,’ you may consider the case of one of that art form’s very greatest practitioners, the late Kenji Mizoguchi. . . . The film is, among other things, the exercise of an exceptionally active and intricate intelligence” (Roger Greenspun, The New York Times).

Mizoguchi’s regular scriptwriter Yoda, who worked with him (more precisely, for him) for 20 years, claimed in his memoirs that in the script for this film he was “almost unconsciously” drawing a portrait of Mizoguchi through Utamaro. The equation Utamaro=Mizoguchi has been irresistible to most critics as the two artists did have a lot in common. Both of them worked in a popular mass-produced medium operated by businessmen, and chafed under oppressive censorship regimes; both frequented the pleasure quarters and sought the company of geishas; but, most significantly, they both achieved fame for their portraits of women. In a highly charged scene in this film, Utamaro paints, directly on the back of a beautiful courtesan, a sketch that is later tattooed into her skin. One could say that this creative act (and the passion the artist displays in executing it) literalises the fact that both artists achieved fame on the backs of women – relying on them to arouse and express themselves, emotionally and aesthetically.

The five women of the title – the refined courtesan Tagasode, the fiery geisha Okita, the respectable artist’s daughter Yukie, the shy peasant girl Oran and the plain artisan Oshin – cover a range of feminine types and personalities but they are alike in two respects. They all actively pursue the object of their desire, however puny he may be. They also share a respect for the power of Utamaro to make them famous in life, if not posthumously, to render them eternally young and beautiful. (These women had in fact very brief careers. Under the ruthless system of exploitation that operated in the pleasure quarters, young bodies were required. In the rapid turnover of staffing, they would be soon discarded and replaced by younger women.)

The film exposes both their pathetic vanity and the brutal lust and voyeurism of the male artist – who is often one of their clients, and certainly a servant of the system that exploits them. In the two crucial scenes when Utamaro, who has been suffering from a creative block, is first turned on and then artistically inspired by the bare body of young Oran, Mizoguchi prefigures and extends (beyond the West) the thesis of John Berger and the whole feminist critique of the functioning of the female body in art.